How One Little Email a Week Keeps Dysfunction Away


What’s more important than money? How do we impact the world around us? In Jerry Maguire, he was a sports agent who gets fed up with the surface level politics of his business and wants to have a bigger impact on his players. In his case, he was – almost – a lone soldier in his cause after he wrote his manifesto. But, he eventually found his purpose and in turn was able to show his client the money.

Part of conscious leadership, to me, is a commitment to develop both yourself and your team. So then, how do you do that? Show me. What do you do?

As I’ve written before,  (“There is no ‘I’ in Team”), when I started FWC, it was because a job I loved had ended.  I learned at my next job that if I didn’t have the right people around me, I could actually hate my job. 

So, I did what most entrepreneurs do. I quit my high-paying EVP position, wrote a check for just about all I had and went without pay for 9 months.  This bad experience crystallized something I knew: a solid group of people are the most valuable asset for a company to succeed in the long run.  Over a 13 year banking career and an 11 year stint at one bank, I built meaningful long term relationships with several people, some of whom today are an integral part of the success of FWC.

I have read all of these fancy business books and it’s all great information, but none of it really resonates like a story does. So, when I have shared stories of mistakes I have made or vulnerabilities that I didn’t know others would share, people stop me and say “thanks for sharing that.”

During 2015, we got together and built a manifesto as a team. Here’s the first part…

The Success Setup

Responsibility ~ By being accountable and holding ourselves to the highest standards, our daily responsibilities come naturally, we fulfill our obligations to each and every one of our clients on a daily basis.

Here are three quick thoughts that help me remember how to live responsibly.

  1. I am 100% responsible for all circumstances in my life.
  2. I am accountable for all of the choices that I make, I make choices that lead to good results for all.
  3. I hold myself to my highest standard, I take action daily on my important priorities.

We drive results because we realize that our success is determined solely by us and when things happen outside of our control from time to time, we always control our responses and attitudes.  We learn, we grow, we get better and better at helping each other and our clients succeed.

Every Sunday night, I send out an email telling stories about our work at Far West Capital, connecting them to key points from our manifesto. The first time I did this, I was talking about that first tenet of our Manifesto – the “Success Setup,” about taking 100% responsibility for your actions. I asked for everyone to give examples from their colleagues – people who live this in their everyday actions. I received 15 replies! Here’s an example of one that I received in less than 12 hours of of sending.

“Just this morning, our own Lori proved how she lives the FWC values/purpose by preempting me on working the ___ file. Simple little effort put forth, but it makes a world of difference for those of us out in the field. Superstar. And she always seems to have an infectious joy or happiness about her. Love working here with people like her!”

It’s a little thing, writing this email, but one that takes me a fair amount of time on my Sunday. I’ll never stop doing it, though – the worth of taking those 30 minutes to write to my team has proven itself over and over in responses like that one.

What little things are you doing to keep your team engaged and avoid dysfunction? Let me know your best tip in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

– Cole

  • Harlan Oelklaus

    Every night before we go to sleep, my wife and I share something that happened to us during the day for which we are grateful. Sometimes it is something very small and some of our gratefuls are big. That little tradition has us going to sleep at the end of the day in a positive frame of mine and not worrying about what I did or what I did not do.

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