Afew years out of college, I dated a good guy for too long, in part because he did my income taxes. Yes, it sounds shallow and unkind, but in reality, it wasn’t.
The relationship was “give and take." I taught him how to make connections, communicate clearly, and be adventurous. I even refinished a cool, antique chair for one birthday. He was kind, intellectually challenging, creative, and did my taxes.
Thankfully, as a University Admissions Counselor, my tax returns were straightforward. At the time, I wasn’t making much money and had no deductions.
There did come a point, however, when my boyfriend and I broke up. He kept the chair and I was forced to get my act together in terms of money.
A couple of years later, I became a TV newswoman. I was a good reporter. I started making a decent salary, so I hired an accountant to compile my taxes. I also took their advice to pay off my credit card debt. That felt great.
When I got married, I started an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). My husband, Henry, found a fiduciary to invest my retirement money, but I never paid much attention to it. How come? As a smart, ambitious woman, what was holding me back from owning my financial future?
Not a lack of confidence in how I connected with people or how well did my job or owned my professional success. It was a lack of confidence when it came to managing my retirement money. Why?
Ignoring my account was easy. I hoped that the investment advisor was doing a “good enough" job.
I didn’t think I had the financial background or skill to question my adviser.
And, I figured I didn’t have enough money in my account for my adviser to care much about it. Small potatoes.
Fast forward to a few years ago.
Henry and I had raised our three 20-something daughters who were educated, working, and financially independent. One day it dawned on me if I want to be a role model in all areas of our daughters’ lives, no matter what their age or mine, I need to get my financial act together. So, I decided to hire a financial adviser who I chose to manage my retirement money.
There are many ways to find a good financial adviser, but how do you present yourself in that initial meeting with confidence? First, start with the power of non-verbal behaviors.
Posture is the unsung hero of confidence and you don’t even have to open your mouth. You can walk into a meeting or greet someone one-on-one, and if you have good posture, it speaks confidence. Plus, holding your shoulders down and away from your ears, your chin level, and standing up straight makes you look one inch taller and pounds lighter. Practice in the mirror.
It seems like a simple thing, to look someone in the eye. But if you’re shy or introverted or simply quiet, it can be painful to make eye contact. If it’s tricky for you, try this: look at the bridge of someone’s nose. It’s a great fake! It’s in the “neighborhood" of the eyes and makes people feel like you are connecting with them with confidence. Practice in the mirror.
Use Your First and Last Name
Your name is a part of your personal and professional identity. It’s as personal as your eye color, fingerprint, or personality. It’s part of the brand of you. Even if your name is difficult to pronounce or more common than you’d like, you own it. And, unless your name is Adele, Beyoncé or Sting, most successful people introduce themselves with their first and last name. Try using your full name and notice if people seem to have more confidence in you.
Ask the advisers about their investing philosophy and success. Ask to talk with one of their clients. And, notice how well they listen to you. It’s your money. It’s your future. You have agency.
Practice these skills and go forth with financial confidence.
Tracy is an international professional speaker and Founder of The Confidence Project. Tracy works with leaders and their teams to practice universal skills that create a Confident Company Culture. The Confidence Project has sold out leadership events, has been to Rwanda to work with the next generation of African leaders, and has worked with companies such as Nike, Intel, Columbia Sportswear & Kaiser Permanente.