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90 in 90: Neil Stalter, Diamond State Financial Group

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Figure out what you’re good at and what you’re not

Determine where you excel and focus your time and efforts there. The 80/20 rule applies. Delegate or outsource the 80%. It’s about return on investment (ROI). The most significant effect on ROI is where you excel. It’s not technology or administration – it’s meeting with clients and building trust.

Neil Stalter | PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE TABELING

 Build relationships

I’m not originally from Delaware, so I had to build relationships and my reputation in the community. I worked hard to meet people and build trust. I worked with accountants, attorneys, etc., knowing they could help my clients. I also recognized the value of giving back. I learned about others and how to support them and volunteered my time. 

 Work hard

There is no substitute for hard work. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes at least 10,000 hours to master something to achieve true expertise. When I started, I almost always was the first in and the last to leave. My family vacationed without me. Why? It was because I wanted to get through those 10,000 hours as quickly as I could. I wanted to be an expert in my industry.

 Be the solution

Anyone can complain – it takes zero special skills. It’s easy to point out what’s wrong. Successful people quickly get past that and find solutions. When your mind is stuck on what’s wrong, it isn’t easy to see what’s possible. Keep your focus on what it takes to find solutions and keep moving forward.

 Listen

Ask questions. Listen. I love to talk with people who have different opinions. I want to know why they think the way they do. I either learn something new or reconfirm my own opinion. Listening is a skill that most of us need to develop. Always have your ears on.

Embrace the challenge

It’s supposed to be challenging; if it weren’t, everyone would do it, and it wouldn’t be worth anything. John F. Kennedy talked about landing on the moon because it was hard. He knew there was value in not only breaking through a barrier but also in the mindset of America in doing so.

 Enlarge your vision and believe

Set stretch goals. Always be growing. Growth will propel you forward both personally and professionally. You can’t grow if you’re not challenging yourself. Your muscles ache the day after you work out because you pushed yourself. Soon, you’ve broken through the barrier and are ready to stretch further. Find a mentor who holds up a mirror and holds you accountable.

 Be a student

Always be learning. Read books. Seek information. Get better at your craft. I have four advanced designations (and I’m currently studying for a fifth) because I want to continue learning as much as possible. Being a lifelong learner makes us more credible and more valuable to clients.

Have integrity

Stand for something. Do things right. Never compromise. In our business, it’s called being a fiduciary, which means putting clients’ needs above our own. No one will be upset with you for conducting business ethically and honestly.

 Be tough

Sometimes, life smacks you in the face. Business is hard and only sometimes follows your timeline. Occasionally, you have to play through injuries with a smile. To quote the great philosopher, Rocky Balboa, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”

Neil Stalter is the associate partner and wealth manager of the Diamond State Financial Group. 

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