Home Posts tagged book
Banking and Financial Services

Taking Flight

Amy Jamrog

Amy Jamrog says she started Four Wings and wrote her book Confetti Moments to broaden her impact as a coach and consultant.

Amy Jamrog says the past few years have certainly been a rough ride for investors — and anyone looking for financial advice.

Indeed, between the pandemic and its many side effects, wild swings — and serious dips — on the stock market, copious amounts of uncertainty, and non-stop talk about inflation and recession, people have been looking for a calm voice, someone who can help them make sense of all this, someone who can help them cope.

Meanwhile … those doing the financial advising have been looking for all of those same things. And this certainly helps explain the rapid growth and intriguing staying power of a relatively new resource for these financial advisors called Four Wings Consulting. That name, and the accompanying logo, have some real significance.

“The dragonfly is the only insect that can fly forward, backward, up, down, and side to side,” Jamrog, a 25-year veteran of the financial advising sector, told BusinessWest. “And so, my coaching is about helping people figure out which direction they’re currently flying in and getting them moving in a forward direction.”

Elaborating, she said the coaching service was designed to help financial planners come up with relevant content, innovative solutions, and new ideas month after month — and pass on what they learn (often about subjects other than money) to their clients. At the same time, they were getting needed support themselves.

“The dragonfly is the only insect that can fly forward, backward, up, down, and side to side. And so, my coaching is about helping people figure out which direction they’re currently flying in and getting them moving in a forward direction.”

“During the pandemic, I was finding that so many financial advisors were working really hard to help their clients, and not having any support for themselves and feeling really isolated,” she said. “I just put out this idea of creating a community of advisors and coaching them as a group.”

Initially she thought maybe 20 or 25 of her colleagues might be interested in being part of such a group. But to her surprise, 130 signed up for it, and most of them continue to join each week.

 

Light in the Darkness

For Jamrog, Four Wings has become one way to share and spread ideas and inspiration. Another is the book she recently wrote called Confetti Moments: 52 Vignettes to Spark Conversation, Connect Deeply & Celebrate the Ordinary, a title that really says it all.

The book, finished in August and launched in November, is now a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller, popular with CEOs, team managers, and even families.

Confetti Moments is a collection of entries to a blog Jamrog started near the start of the pandemic called Wednesday Wisdom, which was started to bring some light to some very dark times. To explain, she turned back to when the world shut down.

“I wanted to bring something positive to our clients in the wake of such uncertainty and depressing information everywhere,” she explained. “So I started blogging weekly with uplifting stories that I thought would be a nice diversion for my clients.

Amy Jamrog book

“I did it every week for two years during COVID, and I came to find out that thousands and thousands of people were reading it and forwarding it to their entire companies or their departments,” she went on. “I heard from people who said, ‘my boss sends me this every Wednesday, and I love your stories.’ And the feedback from my readers was ‘I wish you could package all these stories into a book — I would read the whole book again.’”

She did, and they are.

The 52 chapters in Confetti Moments take titles that include “Sometimes We Need a Wider Lens,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Stay in Your Lane,” “Lower Your Expectations,” “What Our Scars Say,” and “When Eight Oars Are In Sync.” Collectively, they are designed to provoke thought and inspire positive change, said Jamrog, who is doing all this in addition to her day job as a financial consultant with MassMutual.

“There are opportunities to impact one client at a time — that’s a fine career, and many people do really well with that. I got to a point, maybe five or six years ago, where I really wanted to have a bigger impact on my industry.”

As she talked about both Four Wings and Confetti Moments, she said they were both born from a desire to broaden her impact as both a financial consultant and coach.

“There are opportunities to impact one client at a time — that’s a fine career, and many people do really well with that,” she told BusinessWest. “I got to a point, maybe five or six years ago, where I really wanted to have a bigger impact on my industry. I knew that the work my team and I do as financial advisers is very, very good and very different than the average advisor, and I wanted to teach that.”

This was the start of Four Wings, through which she now coaches roughly 100 financial advisors, who take part in monthly Zoom sessions. This consulting work started a few years before the pandemic, she noted, but it really picked up steam during the early months of the pandemic, when, as she noted earlier, advisors were isolated, their clients were looking for answers, and many were just searching for a guiding voice.

“It started with financial advisors feeling isolated, trying to help their clients financially, and being resourceful for them,” she said. “But they were realizing that many of their clients were just stuck; they couldn’t make financial decisions, or they [the advisors] didn’t know how to move them forward in the wake of such uncertainty and panic for most people.”

Three years later, the community of advisors she created, who pay a monthly subscription fee to take part, continue to meet, with participants from across the 413 and also across the country, all of whom are still helping clients cope with a volatile market, uncertainty, and growing fears about recession and what might come next.

“Advisors want to be resourceful and bring a positive message to the clients,” Jamrog said. “But at the same time, they also need an outlet, someone to vent to, someone to present their worries and concerns to and get some great feedback. The biggest challenge in being a financial advisor is that we give advice and guidance all day long, but sometimes it’s nice to actually get some advice and guidance; that’s what I provide, and that’s what these groups provide.”

 

Sparking Change

As for Confetti Moments, she said she’s already sold several thousand copies of the book, which is comprised of what she considers the 52 “best” of her Wednesday Wisdom blog entries.

Each chapter has the blog post, followed by some “Ideas to Spark, Connect & Create This Week,” and a page to write down some notes.

In the chapter titled “Stay in Your Lane,” Jamrog writes: Safety features on cars are designed specifically to keep the drivers safe. Too bad we as humans don’t come equipped with those warnings too. Wouldn’t be great if we came programmed with a little sensor that reminded us periodically to stay in our lane? How often do we take on things that are not our business? Do you find yourself straying into other people’s areas with good intentions — probably even genuinely meaning to help them — but then realize that staying in your own lane is the better, safer place? For everyone?

For those ideas to spark, connect, and create, or ‘prompts,’ as she calls them, she has these:

• Look around at different areas in your life. Where are you drifting out of your lane?

• In an effort to be ‘helpful,’ have you drifted into someone else’s lane? Do you owe them an apology and a promise to stay out of their way in the future?

• What is your lane? Take some time to define this for yourself since it can change over the years. Once you identify the area(s) you excel and thrive, you’ll be happy to spend more time in those lanes.

“The prompts ask you to change something in your life over the next seven days,” she explained. “And then you do it again next week.”

Elaborating, Jamrog said the book is inspiring people to “celebrate the ordinary,” and in the few months since the book came out, readers, many of them business owners and managers, are heeding that advice and encouraging others to do the same.

“I have five appointments this week for corporations who want to book me for corporate speaking engagements because companies want to bring more Confetti Moments to their employees,” she said, adding that this was a typical week.

Summing things up, she said that all aspects of her work, including her day job, are about creating such Confetti Moments. That’s what she meant by broadening her impact.

And if the volume of book sales, as well as the number of advisors attending her weekly Zoom meetings, are any indication, then she is certainly succeeding with that goal.

Features

Cooling Agent

Jim Young

Jim Young says the first steps in defeating burnout are admitting there’s a problem and seeking help.

“I had a major problem, and I needed a solution. Fast. So I decided to use the best strategy I had: outworking the problem on my own until either it was resolved or I collapsed. It was an easy choice, really. Up until this point, I had a 100 percent success rate in winning those battles. Besides, failure wasn’t an option. I’m a man. We don’t fail, and we don’t need help.

This time I was different. I knew that because of the carpeting.

Until that point in my life, I had never spent time inspecting the nuances of the flooring of my tiny, two-bedroom condo. But there I was, planted face down in the middle of my living room floor, drenched in sweat, tears streaking down my face, anguished groans occasionally escaping my writhing body. The abrasiveness of the matted Berber carpet felt harsh on my nose, forehead, and cheeks. Its aroma, stale and slightly chemical in nature, reeked of atrophy. It was not a pretty scene.

As I lay there uncontrollably sobbing, shaking from waves of stress pulsing through my depleted body, it was clear that I wasn’t OK.”

That’s a very powerful, and poignant, passage from the introduction to Jim Young’s recently released book, titled Expansive Intimacy: How “Tough Guys” Defeat Burnout.

Young, a Northampton-based coach who calls himself the “Centered Coach,” and before that an IT executive, has become an expert on the subject at hand — burnout — and defeating it. He’s been there and done that, as we can discern from his introduction, in which he talks about an assignment to revive a major client’s IT system, one that, coupled with other factors ranging from his grandmother lying on her deathbed to being six months into divorce, sent him nosediving into that aforementioned Berber carpet.

He’s also helped others defeat burnout, but only after they managed to find the strength to do what most men strenuously resist doing — first admitting that they need help, and then getting that help.

“I often describe myself as a men’s and organizational burnout coach,” he told BusinessWest. “Because that’s who keeps finding me; that’s the work I’m most compelled to do, to help men deal with this condition we call burnout.”

“The term has gained a lot of buzz over the past few years — the pandemic has pulled the curtains back on this topic, which has really been there for a long time. I think we conflate it oftentimes with being tired or exhausted. People say, ‘I’m burned out today’ … it’s a bigger issue than that.”

In a wide-ranging conversation about his book and the broad subject of burnout, Young said this term gets thrown out almost daily in the workplace, usually with little regard for its true meaning and symptoms.

Indeed, burnout is, in most respects, a technical term. It doesn’t mean tired, or exhausted, or exasperated, he said, adding that there are several symptoms, and also what he called the “burnout spectrum” in which individuals experience some but perhaps not all of these symptoms.

Expansive Intimacy

“The term has gained a lot of buzz over the past few years — the pandemic has pulled the curtains back on this topic, which has really been there for a long time,” he explained. “I think we conflate it oftentimes with being tired or exhausted. People say, ‘I’m burned out today’ … it’s a bigger issue than that.

“The World Health Organization finally, in 2019, recognized that burnout was a workplace condition of unmanaged stress with three components,” he went on. “Exhaustion, for sure, whether we’re physically, mentally, or emotionally exhausted, but also cynicism and a lack of effectiveness; we don’t feel like we can get things done anymore, and we can start taking a cynical approach that things are never going to get better — a mentality of ‘it is what it is.’ A true case of burnout involves all three of those symptoms, and there are people all across the burnout spectrum who might be dealing with one or two of those symptoms, but not all three.”

With that broad definition, and that list of symptoms, which a great many individuals in business can relate to, how does one go about defeating burnout and put it behind them?

It starts, as Young said, with admitting that there is a problem, something he finally did, and then doing something about it rather than trying (almost always unsuccessfully) to tough it out, which is what ‘tough’ guys usually try to do.

For this issue, BusinessWest talked with Young about burnout, his new book, and that concept of expansive intimacy, which, in his view, is the only way to get at the root of this problem.

 

When the Heat Is On

When asked how people know, or should know, if they are burned out, Young said that he — and probably many others — don’t actually know in the moment.

“I lived on the burnout spectrum for five to seven years, and I floated through different aspects of it,” he explained. “I didn’t know it when I was in it until I looked back at it and remember not wanting to get out of bed and go to work in the morning. I felt like I was moving in wet cement as I was trying to get things done.

“To me, a lot of it is the felt sense of it, but also, how are people around me responding to me?” he went on. “And if I could be honest with myself, I would ask people, ‘hey, was I difficult to be around? Was I less effective than I was before? Did I come across as someone who never had something positive to say?’ We’re feeling like we’re not getting things done that we’re capable of. That’s the best answer for me when it comes to knowing when we’re burned out. There are assessments we can take, but I always come back to how we’re feeling and getting some perspective from other people on how I am compared to when I’m at my best.”

Elaborating, Young said people and can and often do have bad days, bad weeks, and bad months. But burnout is longer-term. It’s a persistent feeling of simply not feeling like yourself, accompanied by some physical symptoms.

“There’s a ton of practical advice that you can Google; it will talk about exercise, it will talk about diet, it will talk about shifting your work schedule and maybe even changing jobs. Those are all valid things to do; however, they’re just putting Band-Aids on symptoms. They’re not actually getting to the root cause.”

These can include indigestion, lower back pain, and other ailments that cannot be easily explained, he said, adding that these problems equate to stress building up in the body — stress that, if not relieved, will lead to deeper issues.

It’s incumbent upon individuals, and especially men, because often, they don’t listen to what their body is telling them, Young went on, adding that, if they listen hard enough — and he eventually did — they will come to understand that the problem might be burnout.

And this brings us to the next step in this assignment — deciding what to do about it, be it taking time off, finding a new job or career, seeking counseling or coaching, or some mix of the above.

“And that often depends on how crispy you are,” said Young. “Some people, when they’ve had an extreme case of burnout, really need to decompress; I’ve dealt with people who have had to take long-term leave and just not do anything for a while, but that’s not something that a lot of people can do.

“For me, when I started looking at how I defeated burnout and what I wanted to share with others, there’s a ton of practical advice that you can Google; it will talk about exercise, it will talk about diet, it will talk about shifting your work schedule and maybe even changing jobs. Those are all valid things to do; however, they’re just putting Band-Aids on symptoms. They’re not actually getting to the root cause.”

Elaborating, he said the biggest problem he had with burnout — and the problem that most people have — is the isolation and the feeling that he had to deal with it alone.

“When I pulled back all he covers, when I rewound the story, I realized that the thing that got me out of burnout was to stop isolating myself and create intimate connections in all areas of my life so I always had a place to go when my stress was built up,” he told BusinessWest, adding that this is a difficult assignment for many men.

How do they get over that hurdle?

“I think the answer to that is to look at our shame, which is not a word that guys want to talk about, but it’s there,” said Young, who related his own experiences to drive home that point. “If the reason I got into burnout was because I kept comparing myself to the men around me, to my peers, to the people who were a few steps ahead of me on the path, and feeling that I don’t measure up, then I have to double down; I have to outwork everyone. I definitely can’t ask for help; I can’t reveal any of that to anyone because then I’m going to really hear it from the guys. And that’s not OK.

“So I suffered in silence and tried to tough it out,” he went on. “The problem is, the hole kept getting deeper, and so, when I wrote the book, I knew I wanted to write about burnout, because it was a horrible experience for me, but I also knew I wanted to write about intimacy and intimate connections in every area of my life, which was actually the real antidote that got to the root cause. But I didn’t realize that I was going to see shame come up so prominently; as I interviewed dozens of men about it, I got the same story — the fear of being called out by other guys because we’re not man enough to deal with our business and we got burned out is a huge obstacle.”

 

Bottom Line

Clearing this obstacle is difficult, Young said in conclusion, but it is the first big step toward defeating burnout and moving on from it.

It’s the first step toward picking oneself up off the floor — figuratively, or, as we saw in Young’s own case, and probably many others, quite literally.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

buy ivermectin for humans buy ivermectin online
buy generic cialis buy cialis