Like flowers, business changes with the seasons

Tina Haapala |

African Daisies.

Why the heck is Gary talking about flowers, you might ask. Well, it is something of a challenge. Upon hearing I was going to write some articles one morning a friend of mine, said, in jest, that I should write one about African Daisies. I didn’t see it as humorous, but rather as a dare. So here we are.

She was quite taken by some African Daisies that she had planted, saying that it seemed every new bloom was a flower of a different color. Since this is part of my series about what I learned in business over the last 20 years, I thought the connection was easy. You see, what I do now is not what I started to do…just as the flowers her plant is putting out now are different than what appeared last week.

When I became a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner, I figured that what I would do was, well, financial planning. Indeed our firm does that, but it is a small part of the practice and one that generates well under 5% of our revenues. Instead I found that most people weren’t interested in paying me to do financial planning work, instead they mostly wanted help with their investments. So this flower changed to accommodate that.

Later I found that the types of folks that come and sit down with me aren’t really interested in my advising them on how to handle their portfolio, but rather wanted me to take control and manage their money. So while we still give hourly advice to those who ask for it, most of the investment work we do is managing people’s money on an ongoing basis. The flower changed again.

Even before my business, in my own life was like an ever-changing petal display. When I first went to college I was aiming for a career in advertising. My stint in the Navy lead to a career in nuclear power operations and maintenance; and that to a career in industrial training. Each one was a bloom off the same plant (me), but none looked much like the blossom before.

Don’t worry, it’s not that I can’t keep a job (after all, this is the celebration of my firm’s 20th year), but rather I can’t keep the job the same. Even in the same industry, same company, and even under the same job title, the work changes. Shifts in society and technology see to that.

While each flower in my friend’s garden seems to have to start over, it is really building on the plant that grows and strengthens with each bloom it goes through. Thus my interest in marketing is used daily in my current position. My analytical abilities honed in the nuclear career are used to analyze markets. Previous management and training positions give me better insight and skills with people—both clients and employees. And as I found myself assembling a lot of furniture during our recent office relocation, even my maintenance background came in handy.

Next week, I’ll continue with this botanical theme a bit because the African Daisy isn’t what it seems.

This article was published under the title "Like flowers, business changes"  in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on August 31, 2014.