What do you do for a living? Wait! Don't answer that question.

Joseph Bazbaz
June 1, 2012 — 1,619 views  
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I used to cringe and get pangs of anxiety when someone would ask me what I do for a living.  For the past 16 years I wasn’t able to answer this question in a concise or effective way.  As I was spouting off my job description, I would notice the person listening to me squirming and becoming uncomfortable.  The reaction was a result of my well rehearsed elevator speech that was part infomercial and part used car sales pitch.  I recently decided it was time to reexamine my approach and start over from scratch. 

Maybe I’m looking at this whole thing the wrong way.  Instinctively, when someone asked me the question, I based my response on the message I was intent on delivering.  Instead, I needed to find a way to determine what the person asking the question actually wanted to know so I didn’t turn them off.  My response was intended to provoke a brief but effective conversation, not end it.

Considering this new perspective led me to envision what that conversation looked like between me and the person asking the question; so, I put myself in their shoes. The response could not come across as rehearsed. It needed to be a genuine conversation starter. In essence, I answer questions, lots of questions, mostly about money.  Bingo: My job is answering questions about money. 

Additionally, we have been taught that in order to engage our listener we need to ask open ended questions. However, I have discovered that to truly engage our listener we need to motivate them to ask us open ended questions first. If we don’t take this step, we fail to get invited “in” and it is crucial that this happen.  It has to be their idea and it has to occur to them naturally.  Therefore by creating a thoughtful response, we are leading the listener to ask us questions which will open doors and lines of communication.  “I answer questions about money” is the round peg in a round hole.   

Now, when I’m in that social setting and someone asks me what I do for a living, my response is confident,  “I answer questions about money.”  Then I allow enough time for them to either ask the next question or I steer the conversation back to sports, weather or the news.  However, if they have questions about money, they will ask, “What kind of questions about money do you answer?”  The natural response to this is, “What kind of questions about money do you have?”  Because you have created a comfortable and respectful environment, they will begin to ask you open ended questions. They will share their concerns about money because you are now perceived as the expert with whom they have chosen to converse.

Joseph Bazbaz, a Dallas-based Investment Consultant with LPL Financial LLC, has 16 years of experience on Wall Street.  He spent 4 years managing a family operated hedge fund for affluent clients.  Joseph is sought out by his professional-peer groups to educate them on his proprietary best-practice solutions.  He also works with Oppenheimer Funds to provide continuing education opportunities for CPAs, Estate Planning Attorneys and CFPs.

Joseph Bazbaz

Joseph Bazbaz & LPL Financial LLC

Joseph, is with LPL Financial LLC and has 16 years experience. He spent 4 years managing a family operated hedge fund for affluent clients. He is sought by his professional-peer groups to educate them on his proprietary best-practice solutions.