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Archive for December, 2010

Remembering Those Who Serve

Posted By Michael Roby | Friday, December 10th, 2010

This morning I was listening to Twin Cities radio station KTIS and I heard a poem. titled “A Soldier’s Early Christmas Poem,” by Michael Marks. The poem speaks of the service and the sacrifice of American men and women. For me the poem applies to first responders as well; those who work in law enforcement, fire departments, EMT’s, and rescue squads.

During this Holiday Season all Americans – ALL Americans – would be remiss if we did not remember those who give so much for us. America is about opportunity and giving. America does not happen without sacrifice. I am humbled and in awe of those brave men and women who do so much for so little. In their honor I reprint this poem.

A Soldier’s Early Christmas Poem
by Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,

But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,

“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light

Then he sighed and he said “Its really alright,

I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.

It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,

That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”

Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam.

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.”

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red, white, and blue… an American flag.

“I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,

Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.

So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,

Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”

“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,

Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,

For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

©Copyright December 7, 2000 by Michael Marks

Note by Author: A Soldier’s Christmas was the first in this series of patriotic writings, drafted on Pearl Harbor Day 2000 when in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election our nation saw the right of US Armed Forces personnel openly questioned and debated. I felt it unconscionable that at the onset of the Christmas season, those serving to defend our nation would hear anything but our love and support. It is our challenge to stand for their rights at home while they stand for our lives and safety overseas. This poem went out and quickly spread around the world in emails, letters, magazines. I received letters from Marines in Bosnia, soldiers in Okinawa, from a submariner who xeroxed a copy for everyone on his sub. Moms wrote, dads, brothers and sisters. I have saved and cherish every letter and set out to continue writing throughout the year.

A Relationship Formula For 2011

Posted By Michael Roby | Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Business is all about relationships. My business coaching clients often struggle with relationship development. We get so busy with production we sometimes neglect deepening relationships with those involved in our businesses. Relationship development is simple, but not easy, but there is no need for financial advisors to over-complicate relationship development. A little focus goes a long way, so for 2011 consider this simple formula:


First, identify your top 20 client relationships. These are platinum relationships that fir your business model, they like you, and you like them. Develop a strategic contact plan for these clients. When will you call and meet with them? Commit to finding out more about them, and not just facts, but also the foundational life experiences and feelings that motivate their behaviors. Also build a list of potential client that they know, and plan to ask for introductions.

Second, build a list of your top 10 internal client relationships. These are people in your firm that can help you grow your business. Included would be assistants, those in other departments, home office support staff, management, branch employees, etc. This can also include vendors. Develop a plan to get to know these people better, and ask yourself how you can bring value to these relationships. Ask yourself how you can help them, and commit to meeting with them on a regular basis.

Third, list three people that are colleagues. This step includes advisors in your firm or possibly “competitors” – advisors with other firms with whom you enjoy a collegial relationship. Meet periodically to share sales, service, and practice management ideas.

Building better relationships always results in more and better business. Follow this simple formula to make 2011 your “Year Of The Relationship.”

Good selling!

Thank You Notes

Posted By Michael Roby | Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Professional advisors and salespeople know the value of thank you notes. However, most people find writing thank you’s challenging. While speaking in St. Louis last week, I heard an exceptional, simple strategy for writing thanks you’s, courtesy of Roger Plackemeier, a wholesaler with Allianz Life.

Roger suggested this three-part formula:

  1. The first sentence starts with “You,” and is focused on the person receiving the note.
  2. The second sentence is where you thank the person.
  3. The third sentence is an action idea, or next steps.

What does this look like in practice? Look at this example of a note I wrote last week:

“You made my day with the comments about my presentation last week at the 55th APAI Convention. Thank you, and I’m glad the ‘Heroes’ presentation was a part of the conversation when you closed the deal with your customers.  I will stay in touch, and feel free to call me if I can ever help you in any way.”

Thank You Notes don’t need to be difficult. Use this strategy to make your thank you’s meaningful and effective. Thank you Roger, and as always…

Good selling!