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When I started my career as a financial planner, my mother, who was also a licensed stock broker, gave me this important piece of advice: “Just listen to what the clients are saying and let them talk. Then, it will become obvious what investment is appropriate for them.”

The importance of listening to what others have to say is vital in so many fields and professions, from teaching to medicine. Who would have thought that listening is also a crucial skill in professional level chess? But this is what I learned when I recently interviewed Maurice Ashley, the first African-American chess grandmaster, on The Goldstein on Gelt Show.

Mr. Ashley said, “The art of listening is the art of first and foremost asking questions, trying to get the other person’s perspective. Every single time you’re in a situation, first things first. It’s not about you, it’s about them.”

When I asked Mr. Ashley what it takes to become a good chess player apart from practice, he told me that you need to learn to see through the eyes of your opponent. In our conversation, we developed this concept further to see how it applies to the business and financial world. We saw that this doesn’t just relate to working out what your competition is up to, but also to understanding a client’s needs and wants.

As much as it’s human nature to want a platform to speak your mind, it’s also a deep human need to want to be listened to, by family members, friends, and professional advisors. When choosing a spouse, friend, or professional, make sure to choose one who not only knows his stuff, but knows the importance of listening.

In addition to listening to others, it’s important to also listen to yourself to figure out what you really want. Knowing who you are and what you want is the first step towards achieving success. Without knowing what your goals are, it is impossible to be able to plan a course of action to realize them.

To listen to more of what Mr. Ashley has to say, download the (free) podcast here.

(The opinions expressed on the Goldstein on Gelt show are those of the guest, and not necessarily my opinion or the opinion of Portfolio Resources Groups, Inc.)

Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.

Published April 6, 2015.

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