The Newsletter

My newsletter, published on the first Sunday of each month, supports seasoned freelancers and independent consultants who want to make sense of their money so that they can blaze a brighter trail at home and work while protecting their family's wealth and happiness.

May 24 | How to become more interesting by talking why, not what

May 5, 2024 | PSL Newsletters

"Why" is a fascinating question, more important than "what", and your why not what answers have the power to cement a new connection.
"Why" is a fascinating question, more important than "what", and your why not what answers have the power to cement a new connection.

How often have you been asked, “What do you do?”. Depending on your frame of mind and your interrogator, this question can be an opportunity to sell your wares or a tedious conversation starter (or stopper).

I feel the same when asked about my dog. “Oh,” ask my dog’s admirers when they meet her, “What sort of a dog is she?” to which I reply, “She’s a Coton de Tulear.”

“A what?”

“She’s a Coton de Tulear – a Madagascan Ratting Dog.”

I had this conversation with three people last Saturday whilst walking the dog, so when the last one asked, “And where does she come from?” I simply replied, “Madagascar,” which seemed an excellent way to end a long-winded conversation (it did).

My approach to the “What do you do?” question is similar. Though I am conscious of the commercial imperative and the need to be polite and helpful, I simply tell people that I am a financial life planner turned coach and help middle-aged clients understand their money so they can continue contributing.

However, someone followed up last week by asking, “Why do you do that?”.

“Why” is a fascinating question

That became a fascinating question as I realised that “why” is as important as “what,” possibly more so. I found myself thinking about the change I wanted to make in the world and the experiences of the past that have pushed me in that direction.

I reflected on how I read with dismay about the “grey” sector, as though older people have no more use in the job market and stay alive only to complete the crossword puzzle, buy aids for the home and make profits for investment, travel and property companies. Sadness struck me when I heard of those who, through force of circumstance or voluntarily, retire in their 50s and let a lifetime of experience go to waste. It is chilling that some do not truly understand their money, underestimate the cost of retirement, and struggle without purpose or value.

So my vision, my why, conversely, is of a world where older people, Generation X in particular, have worked out their money on an emotional level, leaving them free, calmly and confidently, to continue to use their skills and experience to contribute to the world.

Vision, passion, experiences

I also considered what had brought me here and concluded that three key events shaped my “why.”

  • My parents slipped into a slow, stay-at-home life after Dad retired. It seemed a desperate waste of their experience and talents.
  • As a young adult lacking courage and maturity, I screwed up big time, leaving me publicly humiliated and feeling worthless. My more severe mistake was failing to deal with the emotional consequences for years until I met colleagues with a more positive and generous approach.
  • In between, I made reckless decisions (without considering the financial implications) that, at one point, left me with no income, no assets, and significant debts.

However, I didn’t let my experiences and mistakes define me. Instead, I launched my financial planning business, and for over thirty years, I led revolutionary changes in the financial advisory community to help clients better develop their life and financial plans.

  • How easy would it be for you to tell me why you do what you do?
  • What bugs you and makes you want to work for a different future?
  • How have mistakes and experiences from your past have moulded your life today?

I would be much more interested in hearing your “why” story than simply being told, “I am a consultant.”

A tip

So here’s a tip to help you on your way to a life in which you continue to contribute more than you consume: reflect on the world you want to see, your vision for the future, and your experiences and mistakes from the past that have brought you here.

Turn them into your story. The next time someone asks you what you do, reply by telling them and asking if they want to know why. They will almost certainly say yes, allowing you to tell your story and, hopefully, get their full attention.

From the Coaching Room

The next FUTURE online programmes

I will run my FUTURE Online coaching programme for four clients (couples or individuals) from mid-June to late September.

Money is an ever-present consideration for the self-employed. It makes the world go round, but if you let it become the centre of your universe, you risk destroying your creativity, spirit, values, and happiness. However, independent consultants must understand their relationship with money to make informed decisions about their home and work lives and the confusing space between them.

FUTURE Online is a 1:1 journey with Jeremy Deedes for independent consultants to make sense of their lives and money and create calm, clarity, and confidence.

I’ll make a few changes to the programme in May (including a new fee structure) and publish a revised programme on my website. However, if you would like to explore the idea of joining the programme at the old rates, use the link below to schedule a free 20-minute call with me to discuss its suitability.

Special Report: Navigating the Independent Consultant’s Journey Beyond 45.

My Special Report has been a work in progress for too long. However, I will complete it in May and make it available to read for free later this month.

Insight Posts

I publish my Insight Posts on Sunday mornings. For the next month or so, I’ll address some of the challenges and problems seasoned independent consultants face, particularly the role money plays in their resolution.


Have a fantastic month. May is probably named after Maia, the Greek goddess of growth in nature and commerce. May is when spring turns to summer and is bookended by welcome rites and workers’ rights at the beginning and Memorial Day in the US at the end.

Of course, 4th May is also Star Wars Day, so may the force be with you yesterday and throughout May.

What do you think?

Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion,
so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.

What do you think?

Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.


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