The Financial Planning Association launched its annual conference in Baltimore on Wednesday by celebrating the planners’ group diversity and then turned the stage over to hometown hero Cal Ripken, the former Orioles’ shortstop turned philanthropist.
Speaking in the cavernous Baltimore Convention Center, FPA President Pam Sandy began the formal conference opener by rhetorically asking the more than 1,800 attendees “isn’t it great to be among friends?”
Sandy then spoke of the FPA’s diversity—by ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and compensation models—including geography, announcing that conference attendees hailed from 16 countries and across the U.S. She then introduced the FPA’s diversity scholarship winners:
Yi ‘Bessie’ Liu, from Texas Tech University by way of Mississippi, who Sandy says wants to focus her financial planning career on serving clients who are first and second generation Americans. Diane Marie Manuel, of Urban Wealth Management in El Segundo, California. Lauryn Williams, from Dallas, the founder of Worth Winning, a virtual financial planning firm that focuses on serving the needs of millennials and professional athletes. Williams, Sandy noted, is quite an athlete herself, seeing as she won medals in both the winter and summer Olympic games.
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Sandy then introduced Sharon Epperson of CNBC, who in turn interviewed Cal Ripken Jr., another athlete of note, in a “fireside chat” in which the Hall of Fame baseball player spoke of his baseball playing career, his record 2,632-game record playing streak, when he knew it was time to leave the game and what lessons baseball taught him that he uses in his business career.
Referring to Ripken’s playing streak, Epperson won a laugh from the audience when she said “2,632—I’m sure you haven’t seen that many clients in a row—or would want to!”
Ripken began his comments on baseball and business leadership at Ripken Baseball, which runs Ripken baseball leagues and provides baseball coaching, by telling a story. He says his firm hires young people “to get on the phone and sell” Ripken Baseball’s products—“experiences” and participation in baseball camps, for example. “They think they can sell, but they don’t want to learn” first, but rather want to start selling right away. Some may even have initial success selling, but when that dries up, they can become dejected and realize they need the training to be good salespeople.
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Ripken compared it to when pro ballplayers experience a slump at the plate. The important thing is perseverance, he said, to keep working on your craft even when you’re not performing well. “The work ethic matters; the number of hours you spend” in the batting cages and with hitting coaches and analyzing your swing. He acknowledged that he was accurately known, and sometimes criticized, for frequently changing his batting stance, though he characterized it as trying different physical poses in a bid to address the ball with his bat in the way he knew to be successful: “I had the courage to try different things.”
After all, “you get four measly at-bats a day” when playing a baseball game, but what fans may not realize is that the players spend “thousands of hours of preparation” for those four at-bats. “When you force yourself to play, you learn about yourself,” he said, and ironically that “lowering your expectations and pushing yourself” after getting that advice in a slump can pull you out of that slump.