Nannette Nocon: How to Set Goals, Ask for Help and Lead People from Poverty to $600 Million in Assets Under Management
This week on The Motivational Intelligence Podcast, we have a very special guest: Nannette Nocon, a very successful private wealth advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. She leads her own team, known as Nocon & Associates. She has been ranked by The Financial Times as one of the top financial planners in the nation, managing over half a billion dollars’ worth of assets for individuals in 26 different states. Nannette is also a part of The National Woman’s Hall of Fame. In addition to that, she’s won the prestigious ATHENA Award, which is given to women who have made significant investments in three areas: business, community service and in the advancement of women. Nannette is a highly motivated and goal-driven individual who is always looking to help others (and herself) be the best they can be. “Cultivate passion by setting the bar higher than your former self,” she says.
Nannette has most certainly done that and much, much more. When she first was looking to become a financial advisor, the person she interviewed for said she didn’t fit the profile of what a financial advisor should be and didn’t call her back, but that didn’t stop her. She was resilient and got a job there shortly after and has been there ever since. Nannette has also been a great mentor to people on her team, pushing them to be better and showing them a great amount of appreciation. “Whenever I hire someone, I tell them that as long as they give me their best, I will give them my best. So, I use self-leadership. I always believe in self-leadership.” Nannette’s story is intriguing and inspiring, so be sure to listen to “Episode 29: Nannette Nocon: How to Set Goals, Ask for Help and Lead People from Poverty to $600 Million in Assets Under Management”. Follow us on social media and let us know what you think!
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Episode 29 – Nannette Nocon: How to Set Goals, Ask for Help and Lead People from Poverty to $600 Million in Assets Under Management
David Naylor: Well, hello everybody. We have a fantastic podcast for you today. Our guest today is Nannette Nocon. Nannette has been ranked by The Financial Times as one of the top financial planners in the nation. She manages over half a billion dollars’ worth of assets for individuals in 26 different states. She also has been nominated into The National Woman’s Hall of Fame. In addition to that, she’s won the prestigious ATHENA Award, which is given to women who have made significant investments in three areas: business, community service and in the advancement of women. One of the things I love is having folks on the podcast who have done a wonderful job in overcoming the challenges and the obstacles that life throws at all of us. They’ve figured out a way to persevere through that and achieved success despite of it. Nannette is not only a wonderful example of overcoming various challenges, but she’s also an individual who has built her career in helping other people to maintain and grow a level of financial prosperity so that they’re better equipped to overcome the challenges that follow them in their lives as well. So, Nannette, welcome to the podcast.
Nannette Nocon: Thank you, Dave. Appreciate it. Pleasure to be here.
David Naylor: Nannette, you shared with me a story a little bit ago and it was a wonderful story that puts a lot of the context around the life that you’ve built and the reason why you’ve built it the way you have. I thought it would be a great way to open our conversation today and really help everybody to know a little bit about you. So if you would, could you share with us the story of your father’s watch and the context around that story?
Nannette Nocon: Yes. So, when I was ten years old, my father passed away and they had five children. So, we were ages three to eleven. I was ten. Second of the five children. My mother worked at the social security office in the Philippines. Didn’t really make a lot of money. Financial planning was not something that they knew how to do, it wasn’t even around. So when he passed, we didn’t really have any money.
So, I would take his watch to the pawn shop to get money so I could do the shopping at the public market. When my mother got paid at the end of the week, I would go back and pick up his watch and have the watch again for the next time around. So, it was a very challenging time, but I also learned pretty quickly that that’s important to look at options at that time and work as a family. Fortunately, about four years after my father passed away, my aunt who lived in Rochester, New York petitioned my mother to move and immigrate to the United States. Her Visa was approved in a matter of three months, which included all of us children. So, we were able to immigrate to Rochester, New York, where we started a new life and lived with my aunt and uncle in a 1,100 square foot house along with their two children and my grandmother.
There was a lot of people with one bathroom in the little house. So, you learn how to get along with a lot of people, but we’re grateful for that. The interesting thing about being in America is that you can actually earn some money just doing odd jobs for everyone.
We would knock at our neighbor’s doors and ask if they need help with raking the leaves or just any chores that we could do for them. When we were old enough to babysit, I guess old enough would be like, 15, we did some babysitting. My oldest sister had a job, but we all put together our money so we could make a down payment.
We could give $2,000 to my mother and she made a down payment on a $27,000 house back in 1978. So, we had this colored pencil graph that we would mark how much we brought in and put into the box. So, it was a lot of hard work. My oldest sister had that leg up because she could get a real job at Burger King, but the rest of us made a dollar or so each time. But it was a great story for us and great learning that you can make it work.
David Naylor: So, when you were living in the Philippines, were there opportunities for you guys to work there or were there just not as many jobs and things plentiful?
Nannette Nocon: No. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, it’s hard to get a job. There’s a lot of discrimination, even at that time, and even just a few years ago. You see an ad in the paper that they’re looking for a particular person of certain height, hair, color, and weight. I mean, all of those are discriminatory patterns. So, young people didn’t have an opportunity at all. Older people didn’t have a job, so teenagers would never get a job. But in America, there’s just lots of opportunities, no matter how old you are. If you can do the work and you do it well, someone could be willing to pay you to help them. That would not have been an opportunity in the Philippines. I can’t imagine what life would have been if we did not have a chance to move to the United States.
David Naylor: So, it sounds like you learned the value of money early on, in helping to support the family and helping your mother. It also sounds like you really learned the value of goal direction. You mentioned that your older sister had the colored pencil and was doing the graph. How did that work?
Nannette Nocon: She would mark like each time we put $10, she would shade the little graph and shade it with the color that we were assigned.
So, her graph was like working really long there. I felt bad that I wasn’t catching up to her, but tried to be self-competitive. So, I looked at, all right, “Last week I had the two boxes that I shaded, maybe this week I’ll have three boxes shaded if I do one more job.” I learned about number one: color that was easy to spot, which I use actually in managing my team when we look at our goals. Showing goals is good because not only can you be self-competitive, but you can also look at your peers and see how they’re doing. But, I also learned that it’s okay to have somebody ahead because all I have to do is look at my own results and see how I can do better from week to week. But it was also exciting to know that at the end, there was this wonderful opportunity to get that money and give the money to my mother to make that down payment for a house.
David Naylor: That had to be a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, knowing that each of you contributed to that. You said something a moment ago and you’d actually shared, I believe it was a Hindu proverb, in one of our earlier conversations about comparing yourself to others, so that’s another great lesson that seems like you learned early on that really the only person you compete with is yourself. If you would share with us, what was the proverb?
Nannette Nocon: Yes. So, the Hindu proverb is : “There’s nothing noble in feeling superior to another person. The true nobility is in being superior to your former self.” I like that a lot because it just is really looking at ourselves, because no matter where we are, there’s going to be somebody better than we are. So, the person that is consistently competing against us should be ourselves. Actually for myself, I quoted this thing called, “Cultivate passion by setting the bar higher than your former self.” So, that is actually my own thing that I thought about because so many people lose enthusiasm and I think about that and they say, “Well, we set the bar.” We could create passion by doing that.
David Naylor: So, here we are, we’re looking at rolling into a new year. How do you go about resetting that bar every year?
Nannette Nocon: Oh. So I learned a lot through the years in goal setting, working with 2logical actually with Joe Gianni, my mentor. It’s always looking at the year ahead and looking at the past year, seeing how the accomplishments were and looking ahead and lining up the different areas of my life that I’d like to work on. So, I’ve created this master list of the things I want to accomplish in my life and I’ve always been goal-driven.
So, I’ve always been doing goal setting since I was a little girl. But, I always look at that. So, this is the time of the year that I’ve already completed my 2020 objectives. I break it down by quarters, by section. There are sections of my life, so I have social, physical, spiritual, so I group my goals so that it’s organized and I put what quarter I’m going to be working on with that. Even relationships that I want to make sure that I keep up with like friendships, because sometimes our days get busy and if we don’t see someone just by happenstance, if we don’t make that point of getting together, we don’t. I never want to look back at my life and say, “Gosh, I worked too much. I didn’t do this, and I didn’t do that.” So, I wanted to always come out of a year knowing that I have worked on my master plan and the specific goals for that particular year, and if I didn’t meet it, then what would I do next time and what got in the way of that? Actually, I do review it at least once a quarter and see how I did that quarter. If I didn’t accomplish that goal, I move it to the next quarter. So I created this elaborate spreadsheet because I love spreadsheets with tracking my goals. It’s a lot of fun. So, to me, I build passion like that. I get excited about my goals and how I can help other people and help myself be better than my former self.
David Naylor: So, I’m curious, where did that goal direction come from? You mentioned that it was something that you’ve been doing since you were a little girl. So, is that something that you saw your parents doing? Where did you initially pick that up from?
Nannette Nocon: I was involved in student council ever since the leadership opportunity came up. When I became the student senate president in the United States in my senior year in high school, that’s really when it got solidified for me. I arrived in the U.S. in November of my junior year in high school and the president of the student senate at that time was American-Born Chinese.
I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool that she’s Asian and she’s the president. Why can’t I be that?” So, then I started thinking about my goals and writing down the things I wanted to do so that I can give myself the opportunity to share my story with my classmates of the entire school. It wasn’t a big school.
It was a school of 400 girls and share with them my story and what I can do to help lead the school. So, I came up with those things and the action plan. My oldest sister helped me put together a little poster that said, “Vote for Nannette Nocon for student senate president.” Then I really worked on my speech and it was very important for me to deliver that speech concisely and understandably, because I spoke really fast when I moved to the United States, which many foreign born immigrants do, they speak fast.
So, I spoke really fast. No one understood me, and the sister of the student Senate president said to me because she was in my class, she said, “Nannette, it’s really great that you’re running for this office, but I really think you need to slow down in the way you speak. It’s hard to understand when you speak too fast.” I didn’t understand what she meant and I thought, “Well, if I spoke slowly, then people would think that I’m not thinking fast enough,” but that’s not what she meant. I took it to heart and I practiced my speech. I spoke slowly, deliberately, clearly. So, that made me think that if you have goals, it can happen. I won by a landslide. I actually upset somebody that was the class president for three years. Typically that person would be the president of the senate, but she was not because I won. I felt bad about it, but it was a fair election. You know what I mean? So, I felt bad that I took the opportunity from her, but I also am grateful to have had the chance.
David Naylor: So, Nannette, there was a couple of things that you shared in that story and I think there’s wonderful lessons there for all of us. So many folks as they’re journeying through life focus on why they can’t do something. Here you are, you’ve come over from the Philippines and less than a year later, you’re running for the president of the student senate.
You could see so many folks who, being in that same situation, they would look and say, “Well, I’m a foreigner. I don’t speak the languages well. I don’t have relationships with the other students,” they would come up with all the reasons why they couldn’t do it.
But you looked at it exactly the opposite and you saw this other girl who was running and said, “Oh geez, she’s an Asian American, and if she can do it, why can’t I?” What do you think caused you to think that way?
Nannette Nocon: I think it’s mostly because I think that we have so many attention units, so we have to decide how we’re going to appropriate those attention units.
So, if I clogged up my mind with the things that I can’t do, there’s no room for the things that I can do. Also, when I think about the things that I can’t do, it depressed me and I didn’t really want to be depressed. I wanted to be encouraged and I knew that it was all up to me, that my mind directed my life and if I thought negatively, put myself down, because I already do that. But if I make that the dominant force in my thinking, then I can’t move forward. I mean, who we are is a result of how we think. I just knew at that time that it was just really important to lead ourselves. We can’t lead others if we can’t lead ourselves.
So, I need to lead my mind. There’s also something that, I don’t think I was conscious at that time, but now I’m very aware of it and it’s the dominant question in our life. I feel that if we know the dominant question in our lives, the question that we think about consciously and more powerfully, the subconscious mind, thinking about what is our dominant question? If our dominant question is, “Why can’t things get better? Why do I always lose? Why do I have such bad luck?” Those are terrible questions because then you’ll actually get the answers, but instead ask the opportunity. So, I am very mindful of the questions I ask myself consciously so that my subconscious works on the right question. So, I want to make sure that I’m directing that, and that’s basically why I don’t want to think of what I can’t do, but think of the things that I can do.
David Naylor: That makes perfect sense. So more of the, “How can I?” instead of the, “Why can’t I?” type questions.
Nannette Nocon: Right, so its like they say, “Fake it until you make it.” So if I do the “how” in making it, then I can make it, I help myself. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand the “why” right away. But, if you know you want to do something, if you figure out how to do it and then later understand why you wanted to do it, sometimes it’s hard to think deeply as to why we want to accomplish something. Why do we want to mentor women? If we want to just go do it and then later find the reason why, it’s good. As long as the results of what you want to do is good for you, for others, and it’s good for human kind, if you will, then it is a good thing to do. Figure out the “how” and get it done.
David Naylor: So, give us an example, if you can, for others who are listening to the podcast. Inherently, I think it makes very, very intuitive sense that asking ourselves the right questions and questions that cause us to be more forward looking. I was reading something not long ago, I think it was written by Hal Elrod in his book, The Miracle Morning, I believe it was. He talked about “Rear View Mirror Syndrome” and how so many individuals spend their lives looking in their rear view mirror and looking at all of the things that they lack and the things that they’re not, and the challenges that they’ve run into in the past. They use that “Rear View Mirror Perspective”, in essence to justify why they can’t do things in the future. It strikes me as you’re saying this, that if somebody’s asking themselves the wrong questions, in a lot of ways, that’s that looking in the rear view mirror. So, give us an example if you would of, what would be an example of some of those right questions that you would ask yourself?
Nannette Nocon: So, you know, this is funny. My girlfriends would say in my twenties, “How come I keep meeting the wrong man?” I mean, they were asking those questions and I thought, “Hmm, that’s pretty interesting.” So, then I thought to myself, “How can I meet the right partner?” So, I decided that one of those answers was join a dating service. So I did and that’s how I met my husband. So, that sounds really simple, but so many women, I think, at least in my generation at that time, always kept asking “Why do I keep meeting the same type of guys? They’re a bunch of losers.” I think to myself, “Oh my god, it’s because you probably haven’t thought about other ways to meet other people.”
So, that’s simple, complex, but simple, right? Also, in my business, a lot of people say, “Well, I don’t know anyone, so I can’t get any leads,” and so on. So, then I think to myself, “Well, if you don’t know anyone, everyone is a possible client, then meet everyone.” So, if you’re just going to sit and complain how you don’t know people, that’s not going to make you know people.
So, go out and meet people. So I think of ways to make that happen. There was a period in my career where I wasn’t intentionally mentoring women and then I became aware of that, that I was not doing that, methodically, systematically. Then I thought, “Well okay, since I haven’t been doing that systematically, let me find ways so that I can participate in groups to help women out.” That’s been great because I’m mentoring a couple of women, which is wonderful. But, and then I also realized that I was actually mentoring women in a more involved, less formal way, in a more casual way. They’ve had great results in their businesses from the mentoring part of the mentoring that I do.
So, it’s really asking the right question instead of, “Why do I keep getting terrible clients?” Or “Why do the clients say no?” Think of ways that they could say yes and write down the 50 answers to that question and how they can say yes and I do that actually, if my mind is stuck, I just brainstorm. So, I brainstorm with myself largely so that no one makes any judgment calls on my brainstorming. So, and then of course I seek the help of my mentors.
David Naylor: So, talk to us a little bit Nannette, if you would, about the mentoring that you’re doing with other women. You’re obviously a tremendous role model in everything that you’ve accomplished and certainly inspirational in that regard. How do you find the women that you’re mentoring and how do you get started with them, from that first conversation to actually helping them to redirect their life in positive ways?
Nannette Nocon: So, at Ameriprise, they have a mentoring program that each time I got those emails, I just deleted them because pretty much I was too busy. Then, it occurred to me at one of the conferences I went to, that there’s a lot of women looking for mentors. Each time I went to the conference, a bunch of women would say, “Oh, can we have lunch with you? Can we sit down with you and have a coffee? Can we talk for half an hour?” So, I was being asked those questions and, and I thought, “Okay, we’ll sit down,” but then I can’t mentor everyone.
So those that I’ve been mentoring, we have regular calls that we do every other week to just kind of look at the workflow. So, the mentoring aspect of it is really more coaching on how we can do better in our work and along the way, just kind of share how we think and we learn, right?
I love the way Joe Gianni always says to me, my coach and mentor always says that, “The teacher always learns more than the student.” I thought, “Well, in this process, I’m also learning.” So, I love that phrase because it makes it exciting to mentor and teach because although I don’t want to be selfish about it, it’s nice that I’m also learning cause it’s affirming what I am thinking, my philosophy when I share it with other people. So, that renews that as well and also helps with that passion in doing what I do.
David Naylor: Well, and that’s such a powerful way to look at it in that regard. You see so many people that they try to hoard the knowledge that they have and they don’t want to share it for fear that they’re going to lose their power. They’re going to lose their edge, or some advantage that they have. But realizing that, as you share that it, forces you to really think things through.
It forces you to figure out how to articulate things. As you elevate others, you elevate yourself. So, everybody wins in that regard. So, you went to high school for two years, came out of the Catholic school. Tell us a little bit about your life from that point on.
Nannette Nocon: So, actually in my senior year in high school, I went to a student senate meeting in Albany and I stayed with this couple when I did. I told them that I was interested in going to school for chemistry. I was a little bit confused at the time. My father is a chemical engineer and they said, “Oh, you should go to Cornell.”
I said, “Oh, where’s the now?” They said, “That’s in Ithaca.” I said, “Oh, I saw that in the train. It said Utica.” They said, “No, it’s Ithaca.” So, I did a little research and found out about Cornell. I applied at Cornell, but then I remembered that my father wanted me to be a doctor. So I said, “I should look at programs that are pre-med,” and I found nutrition.
I love to cook. I cooked for my entire family all the time and thinking about healthy ways of doing things. So, I went to Cornell, studied, loved it, but before that, I actually applied to Cornell and RIT and I wrote to both schools and I said, “I don’t have any money for the application fee.”
It was $50 at that time. I said that I could not ask my mother for the money because she didn’t really make that much money and explained my situation. Both schools sent me a letter to say, “Attach this with your application. You don’t have to pay the fee, and we look forward to getting your application.”
So, I sent my application to both schools. Both schools admitted me, but Cornell gave me $100 more in scholarship money. So, I went to Cornell. So, and actually now I have a scholarship fund at Cornell that gives out money to students who need it because I was helped greatly with that opportunity.
So, I went to Cornell after high school and celebrated my 16th birthday there. Graduated from Cornell when I was 19 years old, and I thought, “I am too young to go to medical school, so why don’t I work a little bit?” So, I worked at a nursing home as the dietician assistant and I realized that the hospital and medical setting is not really for me.
So, then I looked around and talked to a lot of people, found the financial planning career, and they told me that the field was so young that the person I was talking to was a piano teacher, that they had just hired somebody who was a midwife. Another one was a baker. From all walks of life, people can be a financial advisor if they had the interest in it. So I thought, “Oh, what a great idea.” So, after year and a half, I started becoming a financial advisor at Ameriprise, then known as IDS. Now, back then when I did the interview, the first person I talked to thought that I didn’t meet the profile of what a financial advisor should be, so he didn’t get back to me.
So, I saw an ad in the paper for the same company and I asked for an interview. Another person gave me an interview and he was very impressed. But then I didn’t hear from him. But the first guy called me back because he thought that if I was persistent enough to get a response, that I was worthy of a second interview.
So, he interviewed me and that was, 35 years ago, even though at that time I thought, “Let me do this for five years and go to business school.” Just needed experience because the business schools I applied to said, “Well, we might think of admitting you, but you have no business experience.” So, anyway, that was 35 years ago.
I kind of leapfrogged to where I am today, but with such persistence. I had a goal of giving financial planning a try because it didn’t require capital, unlike manufacturing jobs or businesses, it didn’t require capital except myself and my efforts. So, I thought, well, that’s a career I ought to try. So, it’s a big change from high school to where I am.
David Naylor: So, in the initial interview, the gentleman didn’t feel like you were a good fit for the role. So many people would be dissuaded from that. They would look at that rejection and say, “Oh, well, it’s not for me. They’re the experts and I’m not the expert. If they don’t see it in me, it must not be there.” You persisted through that and ultimately convinced them that their initial first impression was not the correct one. How did you do that, Nannette? What caused you once again to rise up when the situation was kind of holding you back?
Nannette Nocon: They said at that time that the profile they were looking for was somebody who’s 30 years old already making $30,000 and they were married. I said, “Well, I’m only 22, I make $12,000 and I’m single. So, I’m definitely not your profile, but there are other people in the field that don’t fit your profile.”
I said, “What do you have to lose? If I don’t do a good job you can just fire me and I do something else.” So they said, “Okay, well it’s worth a try. Let’s see what you can do.” So, they hired me. Yeah, definitely not 30 and married. I was 22, 12 and single.
David Naylor: So, here you are. As you say that, I reflect back at one of the early stages in my career, and I was sitting with the president of a bank and very intimidated.
He was probably 65 years old and I was in my late twenties. I think both of us were sitting there on the other side of the table thinking, “Okay, what do I have that’s going to be a value to this individual?” Yet, here you are, 22 years old, making $12,000 and going out and trying to help people to build their financial prosperity.
So, how did you overcome that in those early phases and give those early customers or early clients the confidence that you could actually help them?
Nannette Nocon: There was someone that was in the other office then that said, “You can be an expert at something by just spending a few hours on something. You would know more than they would if you read up on it a little bit more and did your research.” I thought, “Okay, if I’m prepared, then I’ll know a little bit more about them.” But I really wasn’t doing very well because my leads were not very good. I wasn’t sure what was going on. A few months into the career, I prayed at the foot of my bed and I asked to be helped.
I said “Help me and show me a sign to see if this is the career for me,” because I really love what I do, but I wasn’t making a dime and I just couldn’t have a career where I couldn’t make any money. I had to help my mother by paying her rent for living at home. I said that if I could just see a sign that I would devote my work life to being the best financial planner I could in helping people. That day, someone I had called from a lead who yelled at me, called back and asked to talk with me. What happened the day before is I called the lead that we paid for. This was a lead that was a tear off from a magazine. It would pay $10 for each of those leads.
So, I called the gentleman and he yelled at me, he said “I never requested for any information. You’re bothering me. You’re calling me.” I was in tears after we hung up, I said, “I’m so sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Anyway, so I hung up. But then his wife reminded him that he had indeed completed that little question card and that he’d requested for it. So, he called back and thank goodness I have a little bit of an accent at that time, maybe more. He asked for me, so he didn’t know my name, but knew that my voice would be recognizable. So, then I met with them and then I did a financial plan.
They paid me for it and there was something else that happened. So, there were signs and I said, “Okay, God I’m all the way in.” I just had a lot of faith that as long as my heart was in the right place and that I could help people, it would work. I also learned about asking for referrals.
So, at that time I would have this little piece of paper typed up with name, address and phone number. Emails weren’t fashionable then, there was no emails then. I told this couple, I said, “I really appreciate the business you’ve given me, but I need your help.” I learned along the way that those are very powerful words: “I need your help,” there isn’t anyone that doesn’t help when you say that. Anyways, so I said, “I need your help. Would you introduce me to friends, family members, and so on? You know how I’ve worked with you. I don’t give any pressure at all. I just want to help people.” They gave me names of five people and my client base kept growing because they kept asking for referrals and the phrase, “I need your help.”
At the end of helping someone, they want to help because they feel like I’ve helped them and the universe wants us to give back. So, they want to give back to me because I’ve helped them. So, they give me a referral. My entire business is actually built on referrals either from existing clients, professionals, attorneys, accountants and other individuals.
I really was able to overcome just by thinking, “I have goals. I got to make 40 calls, I have to have 40 appointments.” Even to this day, I have 40 appointments. They’re more meaningful appointments in that clients have more resources for me to manage. We’re a complex financial picture.
But, I never lost that requirement of me to see 40 clients a week. Back then, only maybe ten would stay in the books because they would make the appointment, but they didn’t show up or they cancelled the appointment. I have 40 scheduled and about 45 show up because Sue puts in other people.
So anyways, I haven’t changed the habit, but that’s what kind of kept me going. I was given a sign to do it and I just kept doing it. I guess I didn’t know any better, but I’m glad.
David Naylor: Well, and there’s such a wonderful lesson there and I love how you said that just asking people for their help and particularly if you’ve helped them first, they do feel compelled to help you in return. What’s so nice about that too is you really see the better side of human nature. So often in the media we see the worst side of human nature, but the vast majority of people are really good people. If you ask for their help and you’ve been helpful to them, they’ll help you in return. I think there’s a wonderful lesson there.
Nannette Nocon: I learned about the law of reciprocity, and I guess that’s it, right? If you help someone, they’ll help you. But then, of course, we help people without the desire to actually get help that we just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
David Naylor: Exactly. Well, to that point, one of the things and it was undoubtedly one of the things that contributed to you winning the ATHENA Award. You talked to me before about the mentoring side of things. Talk to us a little bit about how you’ve built a team of people around you now really by leveraging that law of reciprocity and really helping those people on your team to succeed.
Nannette Nocon: So on my team, whenever I hire someone, I tell them that as long as they give me their best, I will give them my best. So, I use self-leadership. I always believe in self-leadership. I have all of my employees within the first three months of them joining me, I have them attend a self-leadership course at 2logical, which I think is wonderful.
I do that for a couple of reasons. First, I want them to understand how I use self-leadership and how that’s helped me. Secondly, help them understand the language that I use. So when they have that framework, it’s easier for us to communicate. It was a little bit of a challenge for me to do that.
My mentor, Joe Gianni, actually helped me a lot. He said, “You know how to work with your clients and if you use those strategies to develop the relationships with your employees to build that trust, you could actually make a very good leader.” I didn’t go to school to have employees. But, that’s an excuse. So I thought, “Well, okay, how can I make it work?” I tried to look at all the tools that are around me and in using it, then I would give time to my employees and celebrate with them, understand what their goals are and help them achieve that and to help them achieve their goals, whether it’s something else beyond what they’re doing with me. But along the way, they give me their best, then I will give them my best and help them get to that place of the next step in their careers.
David Naylor: So, Nannette, there’s a great point there and I want to help draw it out a little bit because this is one of the challenges that I think a lot of leaders struggle with.
In many cases, folks, especially if they’re in a corporate environment, they get really good at doing certain tasks and certain aspects of the role and then they move into a leadership and a management type position where they’ve got a staff of people underneath them, but oftentimes they look at things and they say, “I could have this person on my team do this, but they’re probably going to screw it up or they may not do it exactly the way that I would do it. So, I’ll just do it myself.” That really hurts them with being able to hand off and delegate and to be able to benefit from scaling out a team like that. How did you make that transition, if you will, from doing everything yourself, to having a team of people that did different tasks and how did that change what you focused on?
Nannette Nocon: So, earlier I mentioned about the dominant question. So, I thought in terms of expanding my time, because all of us have the same amount of time, 24 hours a day. The dominant question that I put to myself is: “What am I doing that doesn’t require my expertise?”
Then it means that I could hand it off to someone. I thought about my workflow and my tasks, “Can I teach somebody to do this part so that they can do it for me?” At the end of the day, what’s important is I’m in front of my clients or prospects, helping them out, communicating with them.
But all the other reports, I don’t have to prepare them. Somebody else can prepare them. If I teach them how to do it, then they can. So, I always come up with different things. For example, I’m not good at setting up appointments because when I set up the appointments, instead of a 30 second call or a minute call, it becomes a 20 minute call, which is crazy because then that’s not efficient use of my time. So, I hired this wonderful woman, Sue Winter, who does a great job. So, we’d call in clients and she can get the appointments done. In fact, one of my clients said to me, “You know how Sue calls me and just always gives me a reason to set up an appointment? I’d like to do that with my children. Have her call my children and make sure they’re in here because often I think I don’t need to see, Nannette, but then Sue convinces me somehow that I need to see you.” So, then of course he’s happy that he sees me because we come up with other solutions to help enhance the financial picture.
But, first thing is to understand what we can give up, right? So, keep the parts that we’re really good at and hopefully that’s the part that generates revenue for the business and that we transfer the other aspects of what we do to other people. Because the more they know, the more they learn, the better it is for them, the better it is for me.
Then, if I can get them to be at a place where they’re better than me in what they’re doing for me, then it only multiplies my time. It multiples what I can do. So, yeah, to me that dominant question’s very important. Also, making sure that the people surrounding me are supporting me are also feeling the reward so that they can continue to grow.
David Naylor: So, how do you help them to feel that reward or what are some of the things that you do to celebrate the successes and to really keep those folks on your team highly engaged?
Nannette Nocon: So, the first thing is money, right? A lot of people are motivated by money, but that’s not the driving force.
I tell them if I want them to be licensed at a certain time, I’ll say, “Okay, these are the things you need to do. You have about a year and a half to do it, but if you do it in 12 months, there’s a financial incentive for you and this is the financial incentive. So, it is yours for the taking, you just decide what you want to do. I will pay for the course. You study on your own time. At the end, we both win because you have this certification or license and whatnot.” So, the second is whenever they have steps that they take. So for example, if they get their insurance license, we celebrate with lunch. There’s work anniversaries, we celebrate that. We have different activities that we do because I think that’s important to continue to build the rapport. But, I also learned that there are two things I need to do. First, I need to appreciate them by always saying thank you, whether it’s just a little note, a little card, a phone call, a voicemail, an email.
Appreciating is very important. But on top of that, recognition is also important. Instead of just saying “Thank you,” I wanted to recognize that what they’ve done is over and above. So, I say, “Thank you for doing such a good job. The number of analyses that you did exceeded what you did the week before, so that’s really outstanding.” So, I give not only appreciation, but recognition. I think the two need to go hand in hand when working with the team and then the reward, whether it’s financial or celebration, for example I give them a wonderful holiday party. So, there’s something to look forward to.
I send them limos, they get picked up. They’re treated really well. So, it’s really, if someone works with associates and misses the holiday party, that’s unfortunate. We really celebrate that. We have a retreat every Good Friday. We sit down and talk about the things that we did well and things that we can improve on.
Usually we do an offsite with that and just appreciate them again and recognize them at that time. I think appreciation, recognition and rewards, all fit together in helping them. Of course, I’ve got to give them some of my time. So, not too much time because I don’t want them to be too dependent on the way I think. I want to make sure that they’re using the self-leadership skills that they picked up from the self-leadership course that they’ve taken.
David Naylor: You know, you mentioned that a couple of times, Nannette, and you also talked about the benefit of having everybody speak the same language. So, are there certain key reference points or key language points that you’ve found have helped you to scale the business and grow the caliber of the people?
Nannette Nocon: Well, I like that they have to come up with their own goals. I think that’s important. Hopefully some of their goals are aligned with the goals of the organization. I want them to have the right affirmations. So, when they talk about, “I didn’t do that right.” I say, “Well, let’s talk about it and see how you can do it right, instead of beating ourselves up for not having it.” Then I have them visualize it. I say, “I know that’s really hard to visualize, but I’d like you to think about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Think about the steps that you take and think about your posture when you’re doing the work. Are you engaged in what you’re doing? Are you leaning back and not really caring about what you’re putting into the documents that you’re helping prepare for my meetings with the clients?” So, I use those different techniques that are there and use some of the laws that I’d mentioned, laws of reciprocity, those kinds of things.
I tell them my story. I think they need to know that it just wasn’t easy for me to begin with, because I make it look easy to be a financial advisor. I tell them the story of where I started and what it meant, the turning point and all of that. So, I’m just being authentic with them and sharing the stories so they too can be inspired. It’s nice because they share that with me as well.
David Naylor: That’s awesome. Nannette, let me ask you this, because undoubtedly the vast majority of people who come into that environment are going to thrive, it’s likely an environment that they’ve always been looking for, but maybe couldn’t find prior to that. There’s got to be times when you have people come in and perhaps they’ve got a lot of their own baggage or they just can’t seem to get past asking the wrong questions or negative thinking. So, despite your best efforts, they demonstrate that they’re just not willing to make the trip.
So, how do you win? This is a question that comes up a lot of times in training meetings. How do you know when it’s time to say enough is enough and move on when you’ve got somebody in the organization who isn’t making the grade?
Nannette Nocon: That’s a tough one because I have a hard time giving up on someone, but there’s a point where they can be harmful to the organization.
So, I remember the last person I asked to leave is that he didn’t have the presence of mind. What happened was he was making a lot of mistakes and transactions and not only was it costing me money, it was making the clients upset. At end of the day, the clients were made whole, but it cost me a lot of money.
So I gave him, the verbal warning first and with some encouragement. It wasn’t working. So I said, “Okay, you have to do the work right. Pay attention, double check your work before you hit the word send.” But then it would repeat and then it repeated again. So, it happened a little too often.
After a few months, his excuse was that he was having family issues, his brother was having an issue. I said, “I know you have family things to worry about, but when you walk into the door at Nocon and Associates, I need you to pay attention to the work that you’re doing because when you bring in the troubles from outside, you’re making me the casualty of whatever that situation is and I didn’t do anything to cause that harm. I’m giving you an opportunity, so if you don’t help me, what would end up happening is I can’t help you. So, you end up losing your job.” In this case, he ended up losing his job because he just pushed the envelope a little too far. He said, “Well, can I have another chance?” I said, “Well, I’ve given you at least half a dozen chances, and we’ve had these conversations before and there comes a point where my business is just way too valuable for anyone to risk it. So, I just cannot afford that. I worked too hard for it.” Then we just part ways. It’s tough, but we part ways and it’s hard to do it. I think about those things, but it is what it is. But more often the ending relationship is because they either had a better opportunity, I encouraged them to do something that would help them and it’s a good parting. We stay in touch. I just want to make sure they continue to grow. So, yeah, it’s a tough call, but sometimes, it’s like a pebble in your shoe. It may not be big, but it hurts to walk with a pebble in the shoe. So, we have to kind of take the shoe off and remove the pebble.
David Naylor: In the end too, because of the way you’ve led, you can look yourself in the mirror and in good faith, say that you did everything in your power to help that person. They’ve chosen by their actions to not avail themselves of that. So, it really isn’t, you’re failing, it’s more, they’re failing. In the end what likely happens though, is that because you move the way you do as a leader, they go away and they may not recognize it in the moment, but I’d be willing to bet that over time, they really begin to recognize what it was that you gave to them and the positive difference that you made in their life. So, they win, they just didn’t necessarily win in the same timeframe as you were hoping it seems.
Nannette Nocon: Yeah, right.
David Naylor: So, Nannette, you’ve built a very successful career. You help thousands of people around the country. You’ve helped to grow your staff and help those people to advance in their lives and to be more successful.
So, share with us, if you will, what have been some of the greatest lessons that you’ve really learned about success through the course of your journey and lessons that you think others in the audience could benefit from knowing?
Nannette Nocon: I think one of the lessons that I learned, because I had a struggle with this as a child, is that I had this concept that money is the root of all evil.
I somehow picked that up as a child because I grew up with another family within the family that raised me. They were very wealthy and they did whatever they did wanted to do and they didn’t harm me, but I was taken away from my own family, and I always thought that money is the root of all evil.
I learned that it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil. When I actually learned that, I was okay with making a lot of money. One of the rewards of working hard and doing the right things for people is financial compensation, right? I had a hard time having a good income, but now I’m okay with that because what I do is I give back to the community.
That is so satisfying. What’s interesting is the more I give back to the community, the more I end up having and I’m not praying for more. I am just grateful, but I’m grateful that I get more, so then I can give more. So, it’s just a really positive snowball effect that happens. So, I continue to work because I love what I do.
I mentioned earlier that I cultivate passion by always raising the bar from my last personal best. I think that’s important. I also learned that when I was around people who are negative or sad or just didn’t have a good outlook. I decided that I was going to put my enthusiasm in a jar and I would undo the jar, open it up and release my enthusiasm whenever I needed it because I don’t ever want to be the people in their 50s when I invest in my twenties where they had no enthusiasm. They just thought about how life has taken so much away from them and how much it’s a problem. I’m just going to get that enthusiasm out.
The cool thing about it is I’m 57 now and I haven’t had to open the jar. So, I’ve had the jar, perhaps, because I’ve always had the enthusiasm, but I was very conscious of that. I did not want to be caught up in having the wrong questions in losing my faith in life. So, I’m happy to have it. I tell people this story, especially the young people, because I say, just open your jar when you’re feeling down or you’re losing sight of what you can do, because you always have it in you. You just have to open it up. If we have this jar, we see it, right? We visualize this jar, open it up, and there’s the joy and the enthusiasm genie that comes out. I think that in life, we get back whatever we give, right? I feel blessed and I think if we wake up with an attitude of gratitude, more comes to us. More comes to us, not because we’re wanting it, but it’s just life. Life just gives that back.
David Naylor: Wow. There’s so much research now about the power of gratitude. My wife does yoga and it’s something that she’s been praising in our household for years.
It’s interesting now that the research and the data is really starting to back up the difference that gratitude makes in the way our mind works and the way we perceive opportunities, and even the way we perceive the challenges that befall us in life. So, having that jar of joy and happiness and enthusiasm and really holding on to those positive times. It seems that so many people hold onto the negative times and they’re quick to let go of the positive. But, to build that jar is such a valuable thing to hold onto. So, Nannette, any other final words or pieces of wisdom or insight that you’d like to share with the folks who are listening today?
Nannette Nocon: Yes, actually, you know, I think in life, many of us have heard this before that we don’t know what we don’t know and because there are things that we don’t know, I think it’s important to seek out the help of others, like people who are in the business of helping people grow. I think that that’s important. I think that we ought to be looking for ways to always try to improve ourselves. If you only think our own thoughts, we’ll never grow. So, there are people who are professionals at this and always have the right intention and that is to have us be better at what we do.
So I think that podcasts, for example, help. But having somebody who’s invested interest in making us successful, having a coach, a mentor that is deliberate about making sure that we’re accountable to ourselves and fulfilling our fullest potential, I think is important.
Honestly, we don’t know what we don’t know. Even choosing podcasts, right? We only choose the ones that we think we like or that we know. But, we need somebody to tell us and help us to say, “Have you ever thought about this? Expand the way you think.” I would say that if you don’t have a mentor in your life, to have one to share and to help you grow and develop into the best person you can be.
David Naylor: You talked about it earlier too, it’s always raising the bar on who we can be and looking at, what are the questions that we’re asking and are those questions leading us in the direction that we want our lives to go?
So, Nannette, it has been an honor and a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. Thank you so much for taking your time and sharing your wisdom and your insights and for doing what it is that you do. Thanks, Nannette.
Nannette Nocon: You’re welcome. Thank you for including me, Dave. Best wishes.
1:57- The Watch Story
5:11- Life In The Philippines
6:33- Goal Setting
9:20- Resetting The Bar Each Year
11:28- Goal Direction At A Young Age
15:18- Can-Do Attitude
19:18- Asking Yourself The Right Questions
22:04- Finding The Right Women To Mentor
24:25- Applying To College
29:26- Being Persistent
31:02- Delivering The Best To Her Clients
36:46- Building A Team of Successful People
39:51- Delegating Tasks Properly
42:36- Celebrating Success
45:43- Key Points In Growing Caliber
48:13- Knowing When Enough Is Enough
52:09- The Greatest Lessons Of Success
56:27- Final Thoughts