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Beyond the Material Matters: How I Found Deeper Purpose in Helping Clients Live Happier Lives

By 2005 I could see that my business was going to thrive. So why wasn’t I satisfied? My first epiphany came that same year when I went to a conference in San Francisco. I arrived a day early, so I went to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park and spent several hours reflecting on questions that are all too easy to ignore in the course of a hectic work week: Why does my firm exist? What is my role? Was I doing all I could to serve the most profound needs of my clients? Before I left the park, I’d started answering these questions. I realized that I wanted to be more than a traditional financial advisor, that my calling was deeper than that. I realized that I’d been given great opportunities to help people, but I’d focused exclusively on material matters—as if money were an end in itself rather than the means to an end. Like other firms, we were doing great work helping people get the trappings of success. We were enabling them to retire, educate their children, buy second homes, and avoid money worries—but I realized we should be doing much more than that. By the time I returned home, I decided we were going to change the way TandemGrowth served clients. Our mission would now be to help people align their actions and resources with what mattered most in their lives. Now this didn’t mean we would compromise one iota on the quality of our financial advice. But I wanted to broaden my job description. I wanted to be a better steward of my God-given talents and expertise. I realized that to be fulfilled in the second act of my life, I needed to do more than help rich people get richer and successful people add to their roster of achievements. I needed to help them live happier lives. In essence the discovery of my own deeper purpose—helping mid-to-late-career business professionals create the freedom to pursue their own calling coincided with the insight that what many of my clients lacked, often without realizing it, was precisely what I had begun to discover: a sense of their own true mission. And without that, no amount of wealth could allay their discomfort and bring them happiness.

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