It’s all about class

When it comes to your clients, your co-workers, and the other plan providers who refer you business, there is one simple rule to follow. When it comes to treating and interacting with these people, a little class goes a long way.

Clients, co-workers, other plan providers, and other professional resources for referrals are the folks that help you put food on your table. So they need to be treated with respect and some class. You should never take advantage of people who do right by you.

That’s why I always mention and never forget Richard Laurita, my late friend and co-worker who helped me when it came down to meeting clients, helping out financial advisors, and understanding that the sales process requires the right communication to the right people. I can never forget the help he gave me.

When my home was devastated during Hurricane Sandy, I had no power and both cars were destroyed. I was marooned in a house with 5 feet of water downstairs with no heat. When I was able to get to an area where I could get Internet, I reached out to the only person I knew who would help me, my wife, and my children (who spent the previous night in a shelter, my friend Marlo. Marlo and her husband let us stay at their home for two weeks, so we could start to get our life and home back on track. Without their help, it would probably be months before we could get back home. When it was Marlo’s birthday this past weekend, I made sure to go up to her and tell her how much I loved her because she has been more than a sister to me than my own sister. So anytime I see Marlo and her husband and we socialize, I always try to show my appreciation and class. They owed us nothing and they helped us when we needed it the most. Some folks couldn’t bother to help; they did with actions and not just words.

One of the classiest and most famous people I personally knew died a few weeks back. Basil Paterson was a law firm partner at that law firm I have been deriding for the past four years. Basil Paterson was a former State Senator, candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 1970 (when few African-Americans sought statewide office in New York), deputy Mayor of New York City, member of the Harlem Gang of 4 (with Percy Sutton, David Dinkins, and Charles Rangel), and the father of a rather forgettable Governor (David Paterson).

I was in the Manhattan office and Basil was in Garden City most of the time. I spoke to him just a few times. Based on his accomplishments and being a living part of history, he was nothing but nice to me. While other partners showed their arrogance, Mr. Paterson only showed his class. He was a class act.

Mr. Paterson was well connected in politics and some of his clients were the most well-known and powerful labor unions in New York City. So when Basil passed away, I thought the law firm would put out a press release, mention it on their website, or tweet about it. He was a special man and a special lawyer who brought a lot of business to the law firm and mentored quite a few labor law partners and associates. Aside from a mention on his individual webpage, there was no tribute. Such a classy man didn’t get a classy tribute. Shame on them, shame on the managing attorney. I always felt that in the two years I was there and the four years since I left that they didn’t treat me well, they didn’t treat me with any class. I feel worse that someone who was more experienced than I was who was such a trailblazer in city and state politics that brought them so much business over the years was not treated with the class and respect he deserved for such a legal and political career.

This isn’t some diatribe about the law firm; it’s all about class. Have some; show some, to those who feed you in some way.

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