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Extreme Team-Building: Hurricane Sandy Style

By ClientWise | November 2, 2012

In most cases, the financial advisor teams that allocate regular, ongoing time and resources towards the strategic planning process put themselves in the best position to succeed. This fact has been confirmed over-and-over through ClientWise research on top-performing teams. Those teams that intentionally spend time “ON the business”; in addition to the time they spend “IN the business” create the space for excellence.

How about teams who conduct their strategic planning in the midst of Hurricane Sandy? Now that’s really something!

Recently, the ClientWise team gathered in the New York City region for a team meeting, some of them arriving just hours before LaGuardia airport closed in anticipation of the impending storm. Over the next few days, the team meeting quickly morphed into something quite different…that can best be described as:

Extreme Team-Building: Hurricane Sandy Style.

Some interesting vignettes from the ClientWise team meeting experience:


  • With the power knocked out at the ClientWise office, the team meeting moves to the dining room of one of the team members who had the foresight to rent a generator. The meeting proceeds. Without connectivity. Without the White Board. Just team members around the table, discussing the important planning issues for 2013. No distractions, very focused…and one of the better strategy meetings the team has ever had. (Note the many smiling faces in the team photo!)
  • The husband of the team member who is hosting the meeting cooks up pancakes for the rest of us. Nice!
  • With school cancelled, the five teenage sons of the team members are in the very next room. While the team jumps into an extended discussion of marketing strategy, the boys soundlessly play an intense game of Monopoly…for 6 straight hours without disruption. Inspirational!
  • In the evening, as post-dinner entertainment, the team engages in Table Topics, a parlor game that focuses on conversation-starting themes. As we go around the candlelit room answering conversation-starter questions like, “What’s your favorite family tradition?” between sips of wine, it is obvious that team-building is not the only objective that is being achieved.
  • Resourceful! More than anything else, the degree of difficulty that Sandy added to the team meeting was also an opportunity for the team to pitch in, embrace the adversity, and move forward. This, by itself, was really important learning. Obstacles are a part of life and teamwork. When those obstacles can be used to build something bigger, the team will emerge as a stronger, more cohesive unit than before. Learning to view obstacles as a challenging learning opportunity rather than a distracting obstacle to be worked around is a powerful and potent lesson.


At ClientWise, we realize that the “hardship” that we faced is quite pale in comparison to the destruction that Sandy dealt to the many others who lost a home, a business, their livelihoods, or even a loved one. We were extremely fortunate that our hardship was confined to a loss of power. Our thoughts go out to those still missing friends and family, dealing with the destruction of their homes or livelihoods, including those who have no idea when their power is returning.

If nothing else, we hope that this story inspires you to begin planning for 2013. As you do so, do not be afraid to incorporate a planning process that stretches you and your team. Moreover, try to find a setting that takes you away from the hubbub and distractions of the office…distractions that prevent you and your team from being completely clear and focused. And remember that obstacles can be used to creatively focus energy and effort, helping your advisory practice build a strong team and organization, positioned for current and future excellence.


For a complimentary ClientWise Learning Tool on how financial advisor leaders can build the wealth management enterprise they really want, please download below:


8 Wealth Management enterprise

Topics: Team Development

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