In today’s conversation with relationship building guru and financial expert, Lawrence Sprung, we learn about quality over quantity when it comes to building relationships in your business and career.
» How to build trust over time through nurturing and following up.
» Little things you can do to show that you listen and care.
» How to set boundaries with clients so that you can manage a healthy balance of business and family life.
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(Note: This is an automated transcript, so their may be some formatting and grammatical errors)
Chad: Welcome back to the show. Before I get into today’s value packed conversation, I want to invite you to an online class that I host called communicate. Now it’s free. It’s one hour long, you joined through zoom, which is the same tool that I use for this interview, and I train you on skills related to communication, to relationship building, to time management so that you can find success in your career as a freelancer, as a solo preneur. If you’re self-employed in any way this class is for you. If you’re not self employed, you’ll still gain a lot from it because building relationships, being able to connect with people in a real true way is important regardless of the career you’re in. It’s important for everyone, but I will take a deep dive specific to techniques and tips and tools for how to build your network if you’re self employed because when you’re self employed, when you’re a freelancer, when you’re solo preneur, it’s all up to you to find your own work.
Chad: You don’t have anybody else finding clients finding work for you and then handing that to you. It’s all up to you, so you have to be good at being able to build a network and being able to strengthen in that work and being able to build those relationships so that you can find success in your career. To register for the class, just go to arrowlight.tv/workshops/freeclass, and at the bottom of that page you’ll be able to register and once you do, you’ll receive, uh, an access link to the class through zoom in which you’ll be able to join that class on Wednesday. And you can join it every week as long as you want. You can come one week, you can come three weeks in a row, you can come and then you can come back the next month. Every Wednesday we have that class on occasion will take a week off.
Chad: But you want to get on that list so that you can not miss any of the classes. And you can learn how to build your network from the inside out in order to advance their career. In today’s episode, I get to have wonderful conversation with a relationship building expert who I see as a great mentor of mine. His name is Lawrence Sprung and we’re going to learn how to build relationships that are based upon mutual trust and respect. We also discussed the role of listening in building relationships and how there’s little things you can do to show that you really care that really builds a strong level of trust and respect with people and you’re gonna. Learn about the the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to relationship building. You’ll also learn some key tips for how to follow up and nurture relationships over time.
Chad: And Lawrence. He is the president and founder of Mitlin Financial Inc and he entered the financial end industry in 1996 and he continues to be inspired and energized by the challenge of helping his clients achieve and even surpass their financial goals. And he’s a planner and when we plan it gets rid of all the worry. And even though he’s in the financial industry, he did not approach relationships by thinking about what’s going to be the return on my investment. We always do that when it comes to finances, when it comes to business. We’re like, well, what’s going to be the return on my investment? And a lot of people in networking do that. We need to stop doing that. He is very good at not thinking about what’s going to be the return on my investment and he just cares. And so we’re going to talk a bit about that in today’s conversation.
Chad: Lawrence is also a family man and so am I, and he shares with us some really great wisdom on how to balance family and business relationships and how to set up boundaries in your business so that you can have success in your career without compromising family priorities and needs. And I highly respect them for that. And so if you’re a family person as well, if you’re wondering how can I build a business, how can I find success in my career and at the same time have time for my family and prioritize that. Listen to this episode, kind of getting near the end, we’re going to discuss how to set up boundaries and how to manage that so that you can put your family first while still having success in your business and into career. Doing Business and creating relationships is at the heart of who Larry is and it’s all done with style and grace. So with that said, I welcome to the show, Lawrence Sprung.
Lawrence: All right. Thank you for having me chat. I appreciate it. Pleasure to be here.
Chad: Yeah, I’m glad you’re here. And I really, I’m excited to learn a little bit about what your story is, what, what led you to, what you’re doing today and what are you so passionate about today?
Lawrence: Yeah, so I’ve been in the financial services field ever since college, so 22 years now. And I think a lot of that roots back to my childhood. I grew up in a, uh, in a, in a family where I had a parent that was ill, my mom, uh, from a very early age and I saw a lot of the struggles that my dad went through as far as working, supporting the family, earning, etc. And I think it really left a mark on me as far as wanting to be in a position where I could help others plan and, uh, hopefully prepare themselves that in the event that they experienced a financial strain, whether it be somebody’s health or loss of a job, that we’d be able to help them begin with a plan to help ease those types of situations. And I think that’s really what led me to where I am today. And, you know, I really enjoy working with people. I like helping them and it’s very satisfying when the client, you know, hopefully they don’t hit those types of events, but unfortunately they do come along and it’s nice to see those opportunities when you have a plan in place that it helps mitigate some of those concerns that they might have. And uh, it’s very rewarding work.
Chad: Hi bed, that’s really valuable because a lot of our worries and our stresses stemmed from the fact that we don’t have a plan and that maybe we’ll just kind of figure out when something pops up and uh, and I’m sure that you know, because you’re, you’re, you’ve planned people’s finances, right? And you do different things like that and I can imagine that often, uh, we have various worries and stresses that we don’t even realize stemmed from the fact that we don’t have a plan in place and it’s nice to have somebody on the outside and expert like yourself that can help us have a plans and then we can dismiss it and get it off our mind to be clear, to be able to build relationships. Because we talk a lot about in the show how we can. In order to communicate with people we need to be clear. We need to be present. We need to not have a lot of worries and stresses on our mind because then it clutters our head and we have a hard time connectIng with people. And it sounds like what you’re doing in your career is helping people to clear a lot of that worry and that stress so they can be more present. And I’m sure you’ve seen that with some people you’ve worked with.
Lawrence: Absolutely. The interesting thing is, as I like to say, people spend more time in a given year planning their family vacation than they do their financial life and it’s a very daunting task if you think about it, because vacation is a fun thing. people are looking forward to that time off with their family and the financial aspects of very daunting situation. But I will tell you, we’ve had clients who put us off on planning for years and then they finally give in and go through the process and at the end of the process they look at us and say, oh wow. They have this tremendous sigh of relief. Because they’re like, wow, I didn’t realize I was in. Is good a shape as I was. Or I didn’t realize that I was behind the eight ball. But at least now I have a game plan on going from point a to point b.
Lawrence: And I think I’m going to get there and as you say, communication is key. Uh, you know, obviously, you know, it’s sometimes a new relationship with us with a new client coming in, a lot of times they don’t want to reveal everything about their financial, but unfortunately we can only plan with what we know. So it’s key for us to know when we’re speaking with that person, whether or not they’re coming full front with everything that they’re supposed to share with us or we also have to take those communication cues and see when maybe they’re holding some things back and then it’s our job to kind of spur the conversation further in order to get to those points where they may not be as apt to share that information with us.
Chad: It seems like, uh, a lot of what sets you apart is your ability to build those relationships. Like what you were just talking about. You weren’t talking about how hey, we help calculate some numbers and do some math so that you can have your finances in order. Obviously that, that is a part of it. But when you’re focusing on is the fact that you’re forming a relationship with these people and you’re connecting with them on a level that allows you to really help them in a lot of ways. And so I can imagine that a lot of your success stems from the fact that you were very good at building relationships. So how do you do that? How do you. How do you approach building relationships that are lasting and that have a lot of trust and that really just are mutually beneficial.
Lawrence: You’re absolutely right. Listen, when you know, when you bring up the point about number crunching and investments and asset allocation, you know the, the number of piece of the business, you can hire a robot to do that. You know, you hear a lot about robo advising where there is no relationship. It’s basically the antithesis of where I am and for some people that is an excellent tool because the robot will do as good a job as a person, as long as this program properly to do the calculations. Where we differentiate ourselves is on that relationship piece and it’s not something that’s easily built. It’s something that takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of energy. Uh, you know, I can’t say that when I was five years in the business that I had the same skills that I have now at 22 years in the business.
Lawrence: It’s something that you have to hone over time and it’s something that you have to get good at. I was always good at it and I think that I’ve refined it and gotten significantly better. Uh, I think some of the keys to building a relationship is, number one, you have to be forthright and upfront. If somebody asks you about something and you’re trying to build a relationship with them and you don’t know the answer, you don’t try to answer that question. And I’ve seen it time and time again where, you know, whatever business it may be, somebody asks you a question and they tried to fudge and answer just to have an answer to the question. And that’s not really the best way to go. The best way to go is to say, hey, you know, that’s a great question. Uh, it’s not really in my line of expertise or I haven’t encountered that yet.
Lawrence: let me do a little research and get back to you. That goes a long way. I think you have to show yourself that you show people you’re a person of your word. Number two, uh, I, you know, I, I always live in and I heard a warren buffett, I watched his show the other day on hbo documentary becoming warren buffet and he said, you know, you never want to do anything that you’re going to wake up and read about in the wall street journal more your local paper and I live by that. You want to live by your word, follow through on your word and those are keys and you know, not everybody meet. Are you going to build a relationship with light that instantaneously they’re going to be some of those, some of them are going to take time. You know, it may take in certain cases, 12, 24, 30, six months for somebody to interest us in order to, uh, help them with their financial life.
Lawrence: I think the biggest key is stay true to yourself. Communicate well, say you know, do what you say you’re going to do and stay within your lane. If you follow those kind of set of rules, the relationship will build and over time you’re going to develop trust. And the goal is again, we, we look at our clients as a small exclusive club. We don’t want to be everything to everybody. We want to be everything to a small select group of people and we want them part of our small exclusive club and we want them, uh, almost as part of our family.
Chad: That’s powerful because I think sometimes we see relationship building as a numbers game and we need to build as many relationships as possible. But then we ended up spreading ourselves so thin that it’s a, we have a lot of superficial transactional relationships but not relationships that are really benefiting both people. And so I liked that, that you talk about how you keep that small stuff because you really see them as your family and, and, and I’m sure they value that. They really see that you value them. And that causes a great deal of respect because of that. Because you’re giving the time, you’re putting quality over quantity and sometimes I think
Lawrence: we think about it from a family perspective, right? If you have the, you know, not to pick on them, but if you have like an animal law or newly married person that comes into the family, if they’re not in line with that family structure, it really can disrupt things. And If you think about that from a business perspective, if you let the wrong person into your inner circle, that can really lead to some significant disruption to your entire network, uh, and your entire relationships that had been built because if you trust them instantaneously and you let that wrong person in and now you introduce them to others, that’s a direct reflection on you. and you have to be very careful on that. And we don’t want that disruption in our practice. So that’s why we’re very selective and we want to make sure even from our outside network people that we’re letting the right people in.
Chad: So with a, how do you, how do you vet people then upfront so that you know, you’re not letting people in that may disrupt the network. And then with that, how do you go about handing out trust incrementally because it sounds like you’re talking about how, you know, you don’t just put 100 percent trust rIght up front, but I’m sure that has to be some level of trust initially for even the conversation and the relationship to begin. So how do you, how do you go about that process?
Lawrence: So the, the answer to your first question is, is not really probably what you want to hear, but um, there is no formula on how to, in my view, for me, there’s no formula that I have that says, oh, this person is somebody I can lead into my network. Uh, it’s reAlly a, I have a very good gut feeling and a very good sixth sense when it comes to a meeting folks. And I can usually tell and a, within 30 seconds after reading somebody, whether they’re somebody that is going to do what they say is somebody that’s just, they’re kind of like the, uh, perpetual networker and just looking to collect business cards or somebody that I really think that I can have a longterm relationship with. I can’t really pin it down to what, you know, what qualIties I’m looking at. It’s more or less just an internal filter that I use and I guess I’ve developed internally that I go through that process very quickly and typically I can discern that right away.
Lawrence: Uh, once I find that person that I say, hey, you know, this is a key person. I really want them part of my network. I think we could really value and boost each other up. Uh, once I find that that it’s really taking baby steps. Like you said, you can’t really go out. You don’t want to go out and say to your biggest clients, say, hey, I, I will. I met so and so. I think you should start doing business with them. Probably not the best way to start off. So you start off small, maybe you have a client who has an issue that needs to be addressed that that person can address. So rather than putting the client in touch with them, maybe I would reach out to them and say, hey, I have this situation, how would you handle it? And then I could kind of get a sense of how they handle those types of situations and whether it’s in line with my thinking and what’s in the best interest of my client.
Lawrence: And then you kind of go from there or it could be for a family or friend or whoever. You kind of go from there and then build up that trust bank it, it’s, it’s really like a bank account, right? You’re, you’re, you’re kind of making deposits along the way. Uh, some of them are going to be small, some of them are large and hopefully at some point that a bank is full enough where you’re at a point where you have this whole heart had confidence in that person and you feel free to kind of introduce them to whoever because you know, at that point because they’ve built up that bank account that uh, they’re going to do the right thing thing by you no matter what. And they have similar values and concerns that you have. Yeah.
Chad: Hmm. That’s really interesting
Lawrence: because when you talk about how well I don’t have a formula to vet people and that you just have that gut feeling I’m sure because you are on top of kind of managing your life and you know, you’re a planner so you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re probably ahead in the fact that you are releasing various worries that take up a lot of space in other people’s minds. And because you’re more clear on a daily basis, you have an easier time listening to those feelings and even hearing them. Do you feel that that may help play a part there? Yeah, I mean listen, my career is part numbers and finance a part strategists, pardon? Investment counselor, part psychologist, you know, there’s a, there’s, there is a psychology to this, you know, I wrote an article not too long ago and actually just had a conversation with another client about it, you know, there’s a lot of talk out there about people working longer and the, you know, the, the intimate that people are working longer because they need to financially.
Lawrence: What we’re fInding is people are working longer necessarily because they need to financially. There are, there are people that do, don’t get me wrong, uh, but there’s a vast majority of people that are working because they need the social interaction. They’ve worked for the last 30, 40, 50 years at a job. It’s their identity. They haven’t spent the time and energy to build outside hobbies and interests because they were so good committed to working and building up their time, their, that they finally say, oh, I have to retire because they think they have to. Then they retire and within a month or two they’re bored out of their minds because they haven’t built up the social infrastructure, they haven’t built up any hobbies to take up those though that time and they ended up going back to work even if it’s just an a part time capacity to eat up some of that 40 hours a week that they used to spend at work and we talk a lot with our clients about not only having a financial plan but also having a life plan.
Lawrence: what are you going to do in retirement? What are you doing between now and retirement to get that infrastructure in place so that you can retire and enjoy that retirement and that’s where, you know, part psychologist comes in because these are things that most financial professionals are not talking about. They’re talking about, okay, well you have to invest this amount of money. You’re going to need this amount of money to retire. If it erodes this type of return, you know, that you can do on an ordinary calculator if you really want to. So yeah, it’s just something, you know, I always tell people, trust your gut if you meet somebody and something just doesn’t rub you the right way, chances are there’s a reason why that’s happening and vice versa. If you meet somebody and you feel, wow, there’s like an immediate connection there and immediate trust in that instance, you also trust your gut, but you also do it a little because you don’t want to jump in with them first. You want to kind of feel that out and make sure that your gut feeling and reconfirm that just in case the, uh, gut feeling radar is off, so to speak.
Chad: Definitely. That’s really helpful. I’m going to kind of pedal back a little bit when you were talking about how, uh, with depositing trust in your bank account and how you need to do that over time. I’m a key aspect of communication obviously is listening. What role has listening played in your ability to make those bigger deposits into that trust bank account with new relationships?
Lawrence: Listen to the old adage, right? You have two ears and one mouth because you’re supposed to listen twice as much as you speak. Right. And I think that that’s very important. It served me very well because you have to listen and pay attention. So a couple couple of ways that that’s helped me out is for instance, somebody in my network recently was going to travel to a roomba and uh, you mentioned they were going away, yada, yada, yada. And I had just come back from a short trip. I was on a cruise that had stopped there. I immediately sent him information. We have taken my family and I had taken a great tour while we were there. We had an awesome time. So I sent them a link and said, hey, you know, I was thinking about, I know you’re going to Aruba. This was something that my family and I did just a few weeks ago.
Lawrence: I think you and your family, since they’re similar to us, we also have a great time now whether they go on that tour or not, it shows that person that I was listening. I heard that they were going away and I cared about that situation, whether they use it or not, built up an emotional bank account with them or that trust factor with them. I listened. A business instance where that worked very well is I had a client that was going on a mediterranean cruise and we do this all the time and you know, most advisors would say, oh, mediterranean cruise, maybe put a note in their file. They’re going to be away from this time to this time. Don’t contact them. We do that as well, but I went one step further and bought, you know, the frommer’s guide to a cruising the mediterranean.
Lawrence: I had it shipped to my office. I inscribed on the inside, signed it and slip my business card in for as a placeholder within the book and told them, I hope you have a great trip and, uh, you know, and enjoy your time in the mediterranean. What I didn’t know was that the client was traveling with them, eight folks for other couples. Well, long, long story short, three of them ended up becoming clients when they return because when they were on the ship, before each part that my clients were reading the book about the next port and then they pass it along to the other folks that were with and they said, who’s this guy, larry, that’s written the note in here. Oh, that’s my finance. Your financial advisor send you a book. Yeah, he, you know, he listened, he heard we were going away. So he told us to have a good time and then they became clients. So those are the things that, you know, listening really helps out and really plays an important role in building those, uh, those trust factors.
Chad: Those are great stories and that’s just a great model to all of us on these little things that we can do to show the real listening that you to, you know, one way that we show the listening is just by, you know, as we’re talking to somebody, we’re repeating what they say or asking followup questions or asking more questions than we are just jabbering on. But you also showed that you, you’re listening through an action through giving that book through writing that note, it seems like a little thing, but it was significant and even lead to you having more business and finding clients and uh, I think that really opens up our mind to just that I think we put ourselves in such a box as far as what can we do to develop these relationships and, and, and what can we do to, to earn respect and to end to show that we care. And it is those little things that you do.
Lawrence: Yeah. I think so many times we start getting focused on the peripheral and trying to do too much when, if we start thinking about focusing in on what we’re trying to do and what trying to accomplish. And really what it’s all about is if you help people, you know, I believe in that whole karma. You know, if you put it out there and you do good for somebody else, it may not come back to you directly from that individual, but it’s going to come back to you in some other way, shape or form. And that’s really what it’s all about is listening and doing those little things and going the extra mile that other folks probably aren’t willing to do or they haven’t thought about it or whatever. But that’s really how you differentiate and separate yourself from the pack.
Chad: Right. And I bet that you didn’t even, like you, you probably didn’t anticipate that you because you didn’t even know he was. He wAs traveling with other people so you had no idea that you’re going to get three clients out of it. But it so. Because sometimes I think we get hung up in the fact of, oh well what am I going to get from this and return and what’s the longer play here? But it seems like the, you, you live a lot of your life by just let me just do this thing because I care about this person. And then you said you’re just noticing things just show up along the way, but you’re not. Would you say that more often than not, you don’t know what’s going to come out of it, but you just, you know, you give, you give you care. You listen.
Lawrence: Absolutely, there is, if you give with the intent of getting back, I think your motivation spoil that whole event. THe whole idea is, and there’s no way, you know, maybe a marketing person might tell me I’m crazy because I really can’t tell you what my return on that investment will be, but I will tell you is it’s like the, uh, the analogy to the bank account or an analogy to a tree. It’s planting seeds and if you plant the right seeds and you take care of them and you nurture them and you grow, they’re going to grow over time. and you know what, by sending out that book, yeah, I had no clue. And it may not come directly from that person, but something else may may come up. You know, I know that a lot of your listeners and watchers are probably active on linkedin.
Lawrence: You know, one of the things I always do, I seen clients and folks that I know, you know, they say that they change jobs on linkedin, right? Which is a great relationship building tool. So I make it a point always to say, hey, congratulations. I hope you know, you wish you the best of luck, continued success, and I can tell you for a fact, again, I don’t do this because of this outcome, but I’ve had instances where people have contacted me back and say, hey, you know, I, I, I didn’t move jobs. My salary increased. I don’t have a financial plan. Could you help me or I have a 401k at my old employer. Can you help me roll that over? And again, that wasn’t the intention is just the, what I call a strategic byproduct from, uh, being engaged in that fashion. But again, it’s just little things that can be done that are nice things that I think is somewhat common. Human decency. Eventually we’ll build trust, whether it’s with your network or your, you know, the clients or people you’re looking to do business with.
Chad: Those are really great tips as well with even using things like linkedin that we know we connect with people in person and there’s a certain level of connection that happens when you’re, you’re in person with somebody. But I’m very active on linkedin and I know that there’s a lot of value there as well that, like you said, the little when you have a notification that pops up and said, hey, so and so just changed jobs, you want to give him a congrats that you take that extra time to do that because I know a lot of us and I know me a lot of times sometimes just ignores those notifications and I know that I can step up my, my commitment to that to just reach out to those people and just a few seconds to to to connect on that level and it makes a huge difference. That and you’re not, like you said, you’re not thinking about the return on your investment and that that’s huge for somebody who’s in the financial world I’m sure because in finances were always thinking about, oh, if I invest this amount of money, what’s the return on my investment? What’s the ROI? What’s the ROI? How do you stay out of that? How do you comment a little more on that? About just the concept of, of having an ROI and how you.
Lawrence: Yeah, but I mean, if clients are in a first meeting, a client says to me, what returns can you get me right off the bat? I know that that’s not going to be a good fit for us. Um, and just to kind of backtrack a little bit, we have a process. My first meeting with a new perspective client we call it in, is there a fit meeting? And unlike most advisors where they’ll say, bring in all your statements and all your documents and we’ll review it at the first meeting. We don’t do that. We actually tell them the opposite. Don’t bring any documents, don’t bring any files with you. All we want to do is we want the first 45 minutes we’re going to meet today. And the goal here is to see if there is a good fit. We want you to walk away and have a conversation and see if you think we’re a good fit for you.
Lawrence: And at the same time we’re going to review your situation and see if we think you’re a good fit for us. Going back to that whole, you know, we want to keep our clientele a, a, you know, a small exclusive club. If in that meeting client asked me one of the first questions, you know what, your returns, that’s typically not going to be a good fit because they’re not going to understand or they don’t understand what we’re looking to do and how we’re looking to work with them. Where’s the differentiator come in? Well, the differentiator comes in when the market’s down a thousand points. Where’s that other advisor up the block or down the block? Where are they going to be? Many times they’re going to be under their desk, away from the phone, out of the office. Where am I going to be? Typically if I see that happening, either if I know what’s going to happen.
Lawrence: If the opening in a market or we see it at the close, I sent out an email to every single one of my clients and we say to them, we tell them what happened, why we think it happened, what do we think the impact’s going to be over the next several days and weeks and what we think they should be doing. Um, and we always incline them to let their friends, family and business associates to know that we’ve communicated this with them just in case they haven’t heard from their advisors. And I tell you, we’ve picked up a number of clients just from that. And that’s how we go the extra mile. We ring the cpa in, we’ll bring other professionals in. We don’t try to create this island for us alone where, oh, this is our client. We’re very protected of, of them we are, but we also want to build relationships and be able to help them holistically with those other people that are in their lives. We don’t want to alienate them. We want to bring them in and be inclusive altogether because we would want the same thing.
Chad: And that’s important that we would want the same thing and so why not? Why not provide this kind of service to them? And that shows a lot of integrity that you have that would this be a good fit meeting because that’s something I think we can apply to any industry, to any business that this, that rather than just seeing as a, oh good, so you want my services, you want to pay me, okay, let’s just get this taken care of. That shows that you’re not really caring about them as a person and you really do cherish those relationships and that, that is, that’s huge. And that shows a lot of Integrity to have that, that you’re, they’re qualifying you as much as you’re qualifying them. It’s not just them saying, hey, I want to pay you, and then, and then that’s that. And you take their money and go with it. So that’s,
Lawrence: that’s really important. And we’ve, we’ve, uh, we’ve actually turned down or turned away some significant potential clients. And you know, a lot of times the, you know, the differentiating factor in this one case that I can think of back when was the had been managing their own portfolio for like 50 years and all of a sudden he wanted an investment advice and if you wanted to turn it over and one of the first questions I said was, well, if one of the decisions we make a decision to make a change, I said, are you going to be on the phone with us right away or are you going to be able to wait till our next semiannual meeting? I’m going to be on the phone with you right away. I need to know what’s going on. And I said, joe, I said, listen, it’s well and good that you’re looking to hire us.
Lawrence: We appreciate the thought, but I don’t think this is going to be a good fit from our standpoint. And I said, you know, I don’t know that you’re ready to turn over the reigns for this type of situation for you and your family. and ultimately he looked at me and he goes, yeah, probably not. You keyed on it. Integrity is key, I think is it’s not just, you know, it’s very important for my business because, uh, you know, if you can open up the paper any day you turn on the news, google it, there’s a lot of people in my business without integrity. Uh, so it’s very important here, but it’s just important in every and any business, every business has those that have high integrity and then there are those that have low integrity and it’s tough for the public and difficult for them to navigate who has the high integrity and who should I be working with and who shouldn’t. And that’s really how you have to depth differentiate yourself over time and build that financial bank account as I mentioned.
Chad: Absolutely. You, uh, you talked earlier, how about sometimes it takes a little bit of time to develop those relationships, you know, maybe months or even years. How do you, how do you stick with it when you don’t see any immediate, oh, this, this relationship to this relationship immediately has a benefit. How do you manage the long play in relationship building and how do you nurture those people throughout that process? How do you Approach that?
Lawrence: It all depends on what the potential, you know, what the potential is from a networking standpoint or a business standpoint. You know, it may be as high as, you know, calling them once a quarter touching base with them. Even if they don’t return the call, just leaving a message, hey, thinking about you thought that there might be an opportunity for us to get together sending them a birthday card. Uh, maybe easy. Just keep keeping, uh, you know, front of mind with them. Uh, we have a newsletter that we send out every couple of weeks. So a lot of the folks that we interact with are part of that newsletter and receive it. Um, we’ve had situations where clients did business with us, maybe left, continued to get our newsletter and then eventually came back and started working with us. Um, so I think you have to have, you know, from a business standpoInt, you have to have methodologies in place and a game plan as far as how do you keep in touch with these folks and how do stay top of mind with them or just in mind with them.
Lawrence: and I think that you have different levels. Not everybody is going to be on the same level depending upon your interactions. It’s almost like if you think about it, you know, a lot of people talk about segmenting your clients based upon services and different criteria. It’s almost the same thing in networking. You kind of break them down a to a service model on how you’re going to service them based upon certain criteria. And there are various ways. I mean with technology these days, it’s not that difficult to really stay front, front and center with certain people. Um, it’s a lot easier than it used to be 20 plus years when I got into the business
Chad: it sounds like. Yeah, like you’re using technology using emails and newsletter that these types of things. When you have those systems in place, you’re not having to devote a ton of time to following up with hundreds of people. Your, you’re having just a couple of little things that are nurturing that relationship over time, but it’s, it’s, it’s not as a maybe exhausting as we might think it is because you have these systems in place that allow you to kind of just easily follow up and like you said, you put people at different levels and so they might be getting nurtured in different ways and
Lawrence: yeah, I mean it’s just a matter of that upfront work as far as setting it up and then maybe on an annual basis reviewing it, tweaking it to make it better.
Chad: And do you find that people, you have them at one level, but then as you’re nurturing them, you realize that now they belong in a different level or a different category and you’re kind of moving people around.
Lawrence: Sure. I mean with, from a client standpoint, we score our clients, uh, annually. Uh, it’s based upon certain criteria and we scored them and we’ll adjust. We’ll adjust their service matrix based upon those scorings and same thing with network people and people that we meet. I mean, you know, over time, if, you know, if you reach out three, four, five times and there’s zero response, you know, through any mean whether it be phone or email, any type of response. After awhile you have to say, okay, I’m going to go to a more passive approach. Maybe they just stay on the email list. Maybe you’re not going to call out to them. Um, so you do have to adjust it over time. Otherwise as you start, as you accumulate more connections, it’s going to be vastly more difficult to stay in the loop and keep on top of that. So you definitely have to adjust it over time.
Chad: Right. That makes a lot of sense. I want to kind of shift a little bit and a of what I know about you. You’re definitely a family man and you, you appreciate those family relationships. How do you balance business commitments and family commitments, business relationships, family relationships? How do you balance that so that you don’t, uh, so that your priorities don’t get kind of mixed up and scrambled.
Lawrence: So I mean, listen, I have two kids, they’re 12 and 15 and you know, from the very beginning, you know, as most of your, you know, most of the people that you work with and that are probably watching and listening to this solo preneurs entrepreneurs, you know, we all are doing this because we wanted to do something we love, have a little bit more freedom and flexibility in doing what we do. So we have to take advantage of that. And what that means is to me right now is utilizing that flexibility to spend time with, uh, with my family. Uh, so, you know, it’s not an easy thing, but you have to kind of. Again, planning is key. You know, when my oldest, who I said now is 15, when he was born, my office was about 20 miles from my house and on long island where I live about 20 miles on any given day, it could be a 25, 30 minute ride.
Lawrence: It could be an hour ride depending upon traffic and weather and after he was born I said, you know what, I’m not doing this. I drew a 10 mile circuit circle around my house and I said I’m going to find new office space within this 10 mile radius and I want to be able to hop out of the office and see him at school events or whatever I needed to afford me. The ability to get in and out of the office is more easily than worrying about whether it’s going to be a half hour or an hour. So maybe a couple of years and I ended up buying an office seven miles from my house on a bad day. Takes me 15 minutes to get here. And those are the kinds of things. My point is those are the kinds of things that you have to look at and consider in order to build and design your life in such a way that if you want to be able to balance the family and business, then those are things that you have to look at.
Lawrence: Uh, you know, there, I do not. Typically I don’t do any meetings before 9:00 AM or after 5:00 PM, unless my assistant asked me if those times are open on occasion, if I don’t have any family doing spelling on a, I’d be more than happy to meet with them. But, uh, you know, I typically drive both my kids to school in the morning. I’m in the office at 8:15 after I drop off my second son and then typically four to five days a week. My kids have hockey practice, religious school, etc. So I need to try to make myself available for that as well. So, you know, again, I, I have to say that, you know, when you’re newer, it’s harder to make that balance. But the good thing is most people when they’re newer typically don’t have the family at that point maybe or the kids are younger so they don’t, there’s not as much demand on them at that point.
Lawrence: Um, but it’s something you certainly have to start considering if that’s what you want to do. There are certain people that, you know, business at all costs, uh, that’s not me will give up and sacrifice business in order to spend that time with my family because, you know, somebody with young kids, they’re only young so young now so long they, I, I tell people that the kids grow up exponentially faster, you know, everybody said, oh, it’s going to go fast, you know, in zero to three went fast and then three to six when even faster and now it’s where at lightening speed. Before I know it, I’m going to have two kids in college and they’re not going to want to hang out with me. But uh, so I want to spend as much time with them as I can now. And it’s, it’s a challenge, but it’s definitely doable and it’s just a matter of setting your priorities. Right?
Chad: That really resonates for me because I’m a, I’m a much more the beginning of my career and I just have a two year old son right now and I’m sure we’ll have more kids as time goes on. And it sounds like something key that you’re doing is one, you understand what’s important to you, so you know that for you family is really important and you’re never going to pursue various business things that compromise those family relationships and sometimes we do get caught up in that and like you said, people have different priorities but some people, you know deep down they really kind of, they do appreciate their family and they do value that, but they ended up just getting kind of a. They give into that tent. Yeah, yeah. They get bought by. Yeah. And they’re like, okay, well if I, if I say no to this business opportunity, my whole career is going to get tanked. And you’ve set up these boundaries, like you said, with having, you know, I don’t have meetings before 9:00 and sometimes we’re afraid to do that. We’re afraid to set up those boundaries. But when we set up those boundaries with our schedule, people will respect it and you won’t lose business. You’ll still be able to find success if not more.
Lawrence: 100. I, I, I can’t agree with you more on that. I think that if you, if you explain to people why these boundaries are in place, rather than saying I don’t do meetings before 9:00, I think that’s a little bit different than saying, hey, I don’t do meetings before 9:00 because I take my kids to school. I think that resonates very nicely with a lot of people. And I’ll tell you a quick anecdote for me. When I was younger in my career and my, my sons were, my, my oldest was very young. Uh, I started taking off fridays in the summer and what I did was I did it for the month of august. The first year. I don’t even remember how old he was, but the first year I did month of august, I took it off. Every friday in the office was shut down. Then the next year I did it july and august and then the following year I did it the second half of june when school let out july and august.
Lawrence: And I will tell you a business actually increased because I knew I only had four days to do what I needed to do normally. And five, and I was more focused and committed. The other thing is I had clients five years later after I stopped doing that, that would call me up and say, hey, I need to come in for an appointment. You know, in house friday, so and so. And then maybe, oh wait, you don’t come in on fridays during the summer. Now I had been. But they remember and they appreciate that. You know, I think that again, I think when you set up the boundaries without qualification, that poses an issue, but if you qualify it with, I’m setting these boundaries because I’m going to be spending my time with my family or I want to be available for my family for these times. Listen, if they don’t understand that, then maybe you should rethink whether or not you really want to do business with them.
Chad: Yeah, yeah, totally. Because then you don’t have those. Those values don’t line up and that actually is a good, good point that that causes you to reconsider. MayBe I don’t actually want to develop this relationship here because you won’t be able to respect these boundaries that I’ve set up and that’s fascinating how because you’ve set those boundaries up and you explained it, that your business increased because you were more focused in that. That is a really important thing for, for anyone to understand is that sometimes we think that, oh, if I, if I set up boundaries or I compressed the time that now I’m not going to have as much time to get everything done, but like you’re saying it does, it forces you to get focused and reprioritize what’s the most important thing I can do right now to achieve my business goals.
Lawrence: Thinking about it, right? When, what are you most productive the week before you go away for vacation, right? Because you know, you got to get everything done before you know you’re going, you gotta get it done and how productive are you that week before and then the week after when you returned, right? You’re very productive because you know you’re leaving and then you come back. You know, you got to get thIs done and catch up, so rather than doing it kind of on the fly, you just set up those similar boundaries just a little more gradually. It doesn’t have to be as impactful as, hey, I’m going to be out of the office for a week, so I gotta get this done. You could set those up yourself and you know, a little bit more manageable and start out small and then you can grow it over time and see how it see how it works for you.
Chad: Definitely. Well we’re gonna as we get kind of near the end of our conversation. I want to ask you about you. You’ve had quite a few ventures in the mental health kind of arena and I want you to just discuss a little bit about, uh, your involvement there and what you’re passionate about regarding that because it’s, it’s mental health is a really important thing that is starting to get more to the forefront is starting to get more recognized as, as a real thing that needs attention. And so talk to us a little bit about that.
Lawrence: Yeah, so I think it’s ironic a, or maybe a karmic, if you will, that we’re talking about this today while a suicide prevention week today this week is national suicide prevention week. To give you a little background on my involvement in mental health and suicide prevention, I lost my brother in law in 2004. My Wife’s brother died by suicide. Uh, he had a bipolar disorder. He was struggling for some and ultimately died by suicide and it was in that moment that, you know, I had heard about mental illness, I had heard about suicide. I was never directly really affected by either one and I never really dawned on me that somebody could die from mental illness. And essentially what that spurred into was a real desire for me to get involved on a, on a fundraising level. I’d always been charitably inclined growing up, as I mentioned earlier, my mom was ill with breast cancer, so I used to raise money for cancer society.
Lawrence: I’d raised money for multiple sclerosis and these are multibillion dollar entities are getting a lot of money from the government to solve these diseases. And I looked at mental illness and suicide and suicide takes this many people a year as those breast cancer, except it has a fraction of the budget and the fundraising dollars. So I said, you knoW what, I’d like to do something in this area. And my wife and I became very involved and we formed the Keith Milano memorial fund at the american foundation for suicide prevention. And subsequently over a 14 year period, we’ve raised in excess of a million dollars for the american foundation for suicide prevention, which has been used for a number of programs from high schools to college campuses. And, uh, ultimately I also became involved on the national board of directors for the american foundation for suicide prevention. It’s something that’s very important to me.
Lawrence: I will tell you over the 14 years that I’ve been involved, as you mentioned, you know, mental illness and suicide has been something that has a started becoming spoken about more and more. It’s coming out of the darkness. People are feeling a little bit more comfortable speaking about it, which is leading people that I don’t think normally would get and slash or received help. They’re getting help because of it, you know, the years ago they would have been ashamed to, to do so. You know, we’ve concerted our efforts in really using this tragic event to raise as much awareness as possible to have my brother in law’s name and voice continue and I can tell you for a fact that I know that between the awareness and the money that we’ve raised, we’ve saved lives. We’ve had situations where we’ve gotten calls from people and we’ve helped them navigate the system.
Lawrence: You know, it’s a difficult system to navigate and unless you’ve been involved in it and know what questions to ask or where to go is, it’s very difficult. Um, but one of the key components, as you know, as a board member for the american foundation for suicide prevention, we have an audacious goal and we have a project going on right now that we’re looking to lower the suicide rate by 20, by the year 20, 25. It’s an audacious goal. We have several key areas that we’re looking to focus in on. Um, and uh, we’re excited about the project and working towards that goal. And then on the local level, you know, we continue to fundraise in my brother in law’s name predominantly. The main way that we do that is we have a, um, a fundraiser with authors, a predominantly in the romance field is somewhat happened organically, a romance writers and that community is an unbelievably generous and giving an excellent community.
Lawrence: And uh, this year we, we hit, I think 42 authors that took part in the month of may, during one month, my mental health awareness month and we’ve raised almost $40,000 this year alone. So it’s very important. It’s very key, you know, if I can leave your watchers with, you know, one piece of advice is two things. One, if they need help Ask for it, uh, directly, if they can, if there’s somebody who doesn’t need help but is a friend, family, coworker, you know, again, communicating, you’re noticing through communication that something’s not right. You know, it’s the old adage, see something, say something, okay, ask the person what’s going on. If you feel that something is not right, you have to be willing to go that extra step perhaps in impair the relationship in order to repair the person. And um, it’s very important. And the campaign which I botched earlier is actually called seize the awkward, which actually talks about that.
Lawrence: It’s a, it’s an online campaign that’s on facebook and instagram. If you google Seize the Awkward, you’ll see there’s something about that. Um, and uh, that’s one of the programs what we sponsored, but it’s very important to acknowledge and know your surroundings if you need help, ask for it. Unfortunately, some people still feel uncomfortable asking for it, uh, but they shouldn’t. And uh, that’s what we’re trying to promote. And then the other thing is, again, if you notice something’s not right with somebody, you know, say something, it’s okay to breach the friendship in order to save a life. If you knew that you were going to, you know, hurt the friendship, but ultimately saved that individual’s life, would you do it? I would. And that’s what I think more of us need to understand that it’s okay to say something and make sure that people are okay. it’s okay for us to check in, so to speak.
Chad: Well, thank you for sharing that with us and I definitely encourage anyone viewing this to to follow up with lawrence on that and connect with those, those different organizations to support this because it is really important that the more people that are talking about it, the more those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and those types of tendencies will feel validated and feel that they can come out and and get that help without being judged for it. and so the more people that we have talking about that, the more people will come out and ask for that help and know that they’re going to be accepted and loved and not judged, not seen as a lesser person because they have those tendencies and those thoughts and that is. And that is so important that that’s, that’s, that’s what you’re really helping with all of this.
Lawrence: It’s no different than somebody who’s going through about with cancer or about with multiple sclerosis. There is no reason to be ashamed, you know, it’s just that you haven’t diseased or something’s going on in your brain and maybe it’s treatable. Maybe there’s something out there that can help you, but if you don’t find out and explore that and you’ll never know. So it’s important to have that conversation for sure.
Chad: Definitely. Well, lawrence, you shared a lot of really great wisdom with us today on how to build relationships on how to communicate and how to build trust on how to listen and how to really respect people. And, and I, and I and I know that anyone listening and viewing this will be able to walk away with some key tips and actionable steps to make relationships a priority because that human connection piece is the whole reason why we’re here. When we, if we don’t get thAt, we’re just not going to be happy. We’re not going to be healthy, we’re not going to be successful. And you really get that. And I hope that. And I know that, uh, you are modeling to me how I want to build my career and how I want to prioritize those relationships. And so thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom with us today. Is there anything else that you wanted to share with our audience?
Lawrence: Now? Listen, if you want more information you can or you want to connect with me on my linkedin, you could find me Lawrence Sprung. If you want more information about the american foundation for suicide prevention, just go to afsp.org. And my brother in law’s fund is keithmilano.org. And you can learn more about his story and what we’ve done over the last 14 years. And Chad, I really appreciate the time you having me on the show. And, uh, if you or anybody in your audience needs any help or wants to have a conversation, I’m always open and willing to put in some time for that.
Chad: Thank you so much. Those links will definitely be in the show notes. So I encourage all of you to connect with him, to follow what he’s doing because there’s a lot that we can learn from you, Lawrence, and thank you so much for being a part of this conversation on our show today.