Renowned Financial Advisor Tom Lips sat down with Mudit Pant to talk about some of the important things one should take up in their lives in order to realize its true potential and meaning. We also discussed the importance of having a mentor who can help you to challenge and shape your thinking to instill right perspective about life and help find meaning to it.
Tom graduated from Dartmouth and received his JD from Harvard Law School. After college he shares how he spent a few years navigating to find what his real purpose in life was and something that gave him happiness. He emphasises that the role of mentor in helping him find this path was critical, and that we all should have good mentors in our lives. We also touched upon how to deal with disappointments and high pressure situations in life that one cannot avoid.
Some of the key takeaways from this discussion are as follows:
- The dialogue open with touching upon some of the disappointments and mistakes that Tom made in his early years and then how he overcame them. Of the disappointments he said he had was choosing the wrong profession for the wrong reasons. He shares that he went to law school for not so compelling reasons. At that time the Vietnam war was on. Tom delayed military service until after law school and served at the Pentagon. This was one of the greatest experiences of Tom's lifetime. After that, Tom joined a law firm in San Francisco. He started realising that the practice of law was not for him intellectually and psychologically. He also was aware that most people at this time would have wanted to switch places with him, but he was unhappy. He realised that he made a mistake in career selection as he had not thought through the following:
What are you good at? More importantly, what are you not good at?
What do you like to do?
More importantly, what don't you like to do
Where do you want to see yourself?
How do you balance the personal and the professional?
Do you want to do this for the rest of your life?
-Tom touches upon the importance of having a very good mentor. His mentor really had him think through the above mentioned questions. After this Tom pursued his passion for higher education and joined Trinity College. And after spending a few years at Trinity, Tom questioned himself again and asked the above questions. He shares that he grew up in an investment family and it took him two careers to figure out that the career he wanted to be in was Finance. He started all over again as a trainee, and since then he has never looked back and he has also never forgotten the mistakes that he made which to him were not failures. Key to making mistakes is to learn from them. He now lookbacks and mentions that he is very fortunate that he had those disappointments but fortunate that he took advantage of them.
-Tom mentions that it is important to find two to three good mentors and then staying in touch and nurturing the relation with them. People who do mentoring typically like to give back. There are a lot of people who are out there wiling to be with you on the journey, you need to be always on a lookout.
- Tom mentions that he does not see his past two careers as a waste of time, the knowledge that he gained from them has been immense, and it has helped him to see a wider picture about the world. Through these experiences, more importantly he got to know himself much better. He worked on his shortcomings, played to his strengths, and saw a much broader world out there.
- Attitude is everything. The power of positive thinking is so important. Also, he says to not put a lot of pressure on yourself. The glass should always be half full, and not half empty. Be positive and accept the negatives, and do not think that the burden of the world is on your own shoulders. Also recognise that change is constant. It is normal that one can have multiple different defined careers, and as long as one is learning along the way and being active and positive, one can see way through that. Remember that life is all about journey and not simply the arrival.
- Consistency at work: Tom shares that combination of passion for work and doing the homework intellectually and emotionally is really the key. As a financial advisor one manages the portfolio of people and along with that also manage their expectations.
- In the world of finance a great educational background is minor in mathematics and major in history. You should know numbers but it is important to know history as history repeats itself, and one of the lessons Tom has learned in his life is that you can see the picture better from 10 feet away as supposed to 10 inches away. At his work, it is important to define the life time objectives of the clients and achieve them over time. Part of it is perspective, passion, creating knowledge and have judgement along the way. Judgement is learning from your mistakes and observing everything around you and accepting that there will always be ups and down.
- Tom talks about his quarterly commentary that he shares with the clients. For example it is not timing the market, it is time in the market. Investing is not gambling, you play the game and you stay in the game, you will win (history demonstrates it). Understanding history and having a good judgement becomes important.
- Tom mentions it is important to accept the fact that you cannot control everything, and also go with the flow. The more you are prepared, thoughtful and positive, the negative will pass as the history says..this too shall pass. Understanding what you can control and what you cannot is important. It is important to have good habits as well and also to exercise the physical body as well as the mind. Also exercising spirituality is important. All of this creates serenity around you. It also helps to have good distractions around you. For Tom his choice of distraction is art. Art is therapy for him and takes out the emotions from the moment. He mentions that his office is adjoined to his art studio and he can just go from his right side of the brain to the left side of his brain. Take a deep breath and count your blessing and remember that we are all different.
- He says it is quality time and it is important to get the mind and body in shape. Self discipline that goes with this is very much fulfilling. Important is to see the big picture, and you will have a lot more clarity that way.
- Letting go is important as at times we are not in control of our situation. For Tom it came gradually, and this is where a mentor can really help too. You only pass around life once so embrace it, get out there and take a deep breath. Find who you are, embrace who you are and count your blessings and move forward.
- Tom shares that you learn along the way, and it is important to keep your mind open on the journey to be able to absorb the learning. Don't be too self critical, try to absorb the world out there and understand what it is teaching you.
- The key thing that Tom has learned on his journey is expand your horizon, expand your learning. Education is liberating. He mentions that travelling around the world has helped him to learn a lot by meeting different people and also by observing different cultures. Other thing he learned was venture into the unknown, try new things out.
- Embrace the fear of failure and you will only learn from it. The mistake is not a failure, just do not repeat the mistakes
- Word of advise by Tom: Tom says that one of the great people in his life was his father, and what he learned from him was treat everybody with respect. Don't judge, be kind and be fair to the other person. Embrace differences and be out there helping others. The best investment a parent can give to their children is education, and then use this education to see a broader world out there. Surround yourself with good people, good clients, good colleagues who have good culture, who are truthful, honest, committed, helping the others. Whatever you do in life make a contribution. You will be remembered for your contribution, and not by who you are. Make it all count! All we need is someone around who has light and who has taken that path and knows where to head