Ad­vi­sor and Ad­mi­ral

Life lessons: My big­gest fail­ures in the Navy taught me the most about suc­cess.

Financial Planning - - Contents - BY TED LECLAIR

My big­gest fail­ures in the Navy taught me the most about suc­cess as a plan­ner.

I’m for­tu­nate to be cel­e­brat­ing two pro­fes­sional mile­stones this year.

This sum­mer, my wife Kris­ten and I opened a wealth man­age­ment prac­tice, 994 Group, in Austin, Texas. Last month I was pro­moted to rear ad­mi­ral in the U.S. Navy.

Peo­ple of­ten ask me how I’ve been able to progress this far in both my civil­ian and mil­i­tary ca­reers. The par­al­lels are closer than you might think.

I have served as a re­serve of­fi­cer since fin­ish­ing ac­tive duty in 1995. This ser­vice in­cluded lengthy de­ploy­ments to the Per­sian Gulf and count­less short-term mis­sions — in ad­di­tion to monthly week­end drills.

For the past 10 years, I also ran a con­sult­ing group for one of the world’s largest as­set man­agers.

The Navy has a clear vi­sion, strat­egy, goals and mis­sion, and that’s where the par­al­lels be­tween my two ca­reers be­gin.

These el­e­ments are key tenets of long-term suc­cess for any or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing wealth man­age­ment firms. The Navy’s values sup­port strong lead­ers who in­spire oth­ers. As an ad­vi­sor, I di­rectly lever­age my Navy lead­er­ship and man­age­ment skills to max­i­mize my team’s en­gage­ment and im­pact.

The fail­ures I ex­pe­ri­enced in the Navy are equally defin­ing.

When I was younger, I was re­jected for NROTC schol­ar­ships and did not get ac­cepted into the U.S. Naval Academy. Only af­ter three at­tempts did I fi­nally re­ceive a two-year schol­ar­ship. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Vil­lanova, I en­tered Navy SEAL train­ing — a pro­gram no­to­ri­ous for fail­ing more sailors than pass­ing. Af­ter six months and nu­mer­ous set­backs, I too was dis­missed from the pro­gram. Heart­bro­ken and dis­traught, I trans­ferred into the sur­face Navy with re­newed de­ter­mi­na­tion.


The stub­born per­sis­tence en­abling me to pre­vail in my naval ca­reer cul­mi­nated in a for­mula I’ve used to strive for suc­cess amidst fail­ure. Who is your nightin­gale? It’s said that a nightin­gale only sings if it hears an­other nightin­gale. We need men­tor nightin­gales to help us sing in life. This is an im­por­tant ques­tion to help de­ter­mine whom you can count on for hon­est coach­ing and in­sight. • What is your mis­sion? This ques­tion can help you clar­ify what you are try­ing to ac­com­plish and your goals to achieve it.

• Are you a Lin­coln? Pres­i­dent Lin­coln’s will pre­served the Union. This ques­tion can help you de­ter­mine your com­mit­ment and will to per­sist through dif­fi­culty. In start­ing 994 Group, Kris­ten and I use this for­mula on an on­go­ing ba­sis.

Build­ing a busi­ness and gath­er­ing clients is hard, and fail­ure is an on­go­ing theme.

Build­ing a busi­ness and gath­er­ing clients is hard, and fail­ure is an on­go­ing theme.

Through­out my mil­i­tary and civil­ian ca­reers, I’ve gained tremen­dous re­spect for peo­ple who not only demon­strate per­se­ver­ance, but also sup­port and coach oth­ers to do the same. This per­spec­tive is one of the rea­sons Kris­ten and I de­cided we wanted to work di­rectly with clients.

The Navy has trans­formed not only my life, but also Kris­ten’s, and it is now our shared mis­sion to trans­form the lives of the clients whom we are hon­ored to serve.

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