This month we celebrate Argent’s 32nd anniversary as a company.
What an adventure! Hard to believe we came into existence before Amazon, Netflix, or Google. When we started in 1990, gas was 76 cents a gallon and iPhones were still 17 years in the future!
Typically, on occasions like this I’m asked, “What advice would you want to pass on to younger business professionals?” In fact, just the other day, a neighbor stopped by my office and asked me, “In three plus decades, what are the best insights you’ve gained?”
I’m always hesitant to give life advice. Every person is different. No two life situations are ever the same. What works for one company doesn’t necessarily work for another.
But I have discovered a few valuable insights along the way.
Here are seven practices that have served me—and Argent—well these past 32 years
1| Be intentional.
I’ve learned it’s important to have a clear sense of where we’re trying to go. When Argent began, we wanted to offer clients across the South a wide range of fiduciary-based financial services—but with a personal touch that bigger institutions couldn’t replicate.
That’s what we’ve done. (Although I should add that our day-to-day plans didn’t always unfold in ways we expected! That taught us a second valuable practice…)
2| Be flexible.
Being smaller and independent has proven to be an advantage for us, a primary reason for the growth Argent has enjoyed. On multiple occasions, when the landscape shifted, our size and structure enabled us to adapt quickly and take advantage of new opportunities.
This trait of being nimble is valuable not only for companies, but also for individuals. When we get rigid—stuck in an inflexible mindset, it’s easy to box ourselves in. Fixating on a certain outcome can cause us to miss other possibilities that might lead to better outcomes.
A related practice that has proven to be extremely valuable is…
3| Be prepared.
Before Abraham Lincoln became a national icon, he allegedly said, “I will study and get ready, and perhaps, my chance will come.” Obviously, his chance did come.
Such a “be prepared” philosophy isn’t just for future Presidents—or Boy Scouts; it’s vital for every individual and business. By continuing to learn and by keeping our eyes open, we’ve been ready when doors unexpectedly opened.
And that’s when we’ve seen how critical it is to…
4| Be a good steward of gifts and opportunities.
People are motivated by different things, and they measure success in different ways.
I’ve found the best motivator is a simple question—Am I being responsible with all that has been entrusted to me? And I’ve learned that real success means being able to answer that question “yes.”
When it comes to abilities, resources, advantages, the platform I’ve been given, and the opportunities that cross my path, I’ve always felt a strong sense of duty to use those things to make a difference in the lives of others.
I’m convinced Argent’s growth and success is primarily due to the fact that we too are driven by that question. In fact, that’s what being a fiduciary means. By faithfully managing the assets that have been entrusted to us, everyone prospers: the clients and communities we serve—and the company we’re working together to build.
Related to being a good steward is the need to…
5| Be grateful.
Reviewing our gifts and opportunities should make us thankful. And that gratitude can help temper the highs and lows that come our way.
With a grateful mindset, we can humbly embrace success, knowing that we would not be where we are without a lot of help.
And, when the inevitable setbacks and failures of life come our way, gratitude can encourage us to look to the future with hopeful anticipation. If our 32 years have taught us anything, it’s that we can be confident the abilities we’ve been given will lead to additional opportunities.
Knowing that, we have always sought to…
6| Be bold.
I remember a major transaction years ago. An advisor who was watching me negotiate told me privately, almost in surprise, “You’re not afraid of success!” He added that he considered my displayed confidence “unusual.”
I don’t know how unusual my behavior was. I only know that, looking back, I certainly didn’t feel afraid. In my mind we were engaged in a worthy pursuit.
If the deal went through, it would be a win for Argent. And if the deal fell through, I figured another opportunity would come along at the right time. In either case, I knew we’d be fine.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing worthwhile goals. Be bold. Let yourself be successful. Or you could say it this way, “Don’t hinder your own success by being timid.”
Here’s one last lesson I’ve learned, and it’s an important one…
7| Be balanced.
We say this a lot at Argent, but it bears repeating: We don’t live to work; we work to live.
The work we do—protecting, managing, and growing our clients’ wealth—is vitally important. But it isn’t an end in itself; it’s a means to an end. Our work gives us an opportunity to use our abilities for the sake of others.
That means not only our clients—but our families too. In other words, our work lives should enhance our home lives, not diminish them. Helping our clients succeed at the expense of our own spouses and children is failure, not success.
We want all our Argent staff to enjoy a healthy work/life balance.
On that last note—and on this special occasion—let me say how thankful I am to have the best of both worlds.
After 32 years of business, I am part of a team at Argent that I respect and appreciate. And I have a wife and children—and beautiful grandchildren!—who love me and I, them.
I am blessed beyond measure. So is Argent.
Let’s continue the adventure!