Christopher W. Porter | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Christopher W. Porter

Background:  

Wallingford-based Porter Financial Strategies was once known as Killam and Sperry. Christopher W. “Chris” Porter joined the firm in the early 1990s as a junior partner and assumed ownership after the death of one senior partner and the retirement of another. With licenses covering several areas including annuities, life insurance, and securities representation, he serves as president of Porter Financial Services with his wife, Jeanette M. Porter, being chief operating officer.

Porter, pictured above with his wife (left) and client representative specialist Diane Chadderton, had a varied career before becoming a financial adviser, including working as a king crab commercial fisherman in Alaska, as a high-end courier in New York City, and building and refurbishing commercial real estate properties.

The Mistake:

I created what I thought was the perfect plan, but my client wasn’t happy with it. Actually, this happened more than once. I felt stuck because I was doing what I knew was best for them.

My late partner, Fred Killam, taught me that if the client is not comfortable with it then it’s not the right plan. You may have stayed up late and figured everything perfectly. Doesn’t matter. If the client doesn’t like it then that’s the end of it; it’s not appropriate – period. In my business, the customer is always right.

Having fished for king crabs, I learned that 90 percent of the work is preparation.

The Lesson:

When your customer has peace of mind then you have peace of mind. I know that I can make a living, so changing things doesn’t bother me. As you get to know people you learn their direct points and their subtle points. There’s no substitute for that and you can’t learn it through the Internet or email.

In New York, I learned the business of business – the art of interacting with people. That’s the best education you can acquire.

Having fished for king crabs, I learned that 90 percent of the work is preparation including dropping the pot into the water and 10 percent is pulling the crab out of the pot. If you’re prepared on the front end then the late stuff is manageable.

In prospecting for business, I learned the lesson of full pots and empty pots. Older people are generally the full pots. Since you work just as hard on the full pots as the empty pots, I learned to go where the full pots are. We had lots of full pots in those early years and I got good at keeping them full.

While I need to stay viable in business, I’ve come to enjoy filling those empty pots. Those people need help, too. There’s no halo over my head, but I like to help people.

Photo courtesy of Christopher W. Porter

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