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Best Practices

Your Business: A Family Affair

In case you’re wondering where your family fits in as you work to make your business thrive, the answer is: everywhere.

Building a career in the life insurance and financial services industry can be all-consuming—to the point where family becomes secondary or even an afterthought. It can take all your time and energy and exact a terrible toll if you let it. Because of the demands, I know agents and advisors who are on their second and third marriages and others who’ve spent little time with their children as they are growing up.

Don’t let anybody tell you that “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time you spend with your family. It isn’t. It’s the total time you spend with them that counts. If you’re going to teach your children about ethics, family values, hard work, the value of money and the importance of doing a job well, you need to invest the time to do it—not just phone it in. You have to do it right the first time because you don’t get a second chance to raise your children.

Let’s All Sit Down
That’s why establishing a schedule that includes family time and family values will serve you in the best possible ways. I learned this lesson growing up. My mother had a rule that on Friday nights everyone had to be home for dinner, most emphatically my father, who was also in the life insurance business.

When my wife and I got married, we realized that while I needed to invest long hours in my work, family time was critical. We also set aside Friday nights for family dinners. In addition, Saturdays were spent with my wife (private time for us or time to socialize with other couples), and Sundays were family days when our children got to choose what we did together. Of course there were exceptions, such as when a client’s funeral was on a weekend. But family time wasn’t about “when it worked out OK with all our schedules.” It was a conscious life plan, with scheduled time.

Saying No to the Extras
There are also a lot of things I didn’t do earlier in my career because I knew they would take too much time away from my family. These included serving on boards and committees, and even playing golf, which is irrefutably a time-consuming sport.

When our children were older and involved in their own pursuits, I allowed myself more flexibility for outside activities, some of which served my business due to their networking potential, although I didn’t participate in them for that reason. I did start playing golf at that point but have since stopped, which my golf partners thought was a good idea.

In many circles, the thinking still persists that time invested in your family is time away from your business. That’s not the case. When all’s well on the home front, you are less distracted, more relaxed and your productivity rises. Plus, the variety and change of pace of spending time with them provides a balance—and renewed energy and dedication when you’re back at your desk.

Everything you do should be about excellence. Work-life balance is important, and so is the depth and scope of your commitment to making it happen. When you operate that way in the world, you’ll be surprised at how things fall into place. When all is said and done, the legacy you leave is your family.

Adapted from the book "Man on a Mission: How to Succeed, Serve and Make a Difference in Your Financial Services Career" by Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC.