The One Trait That Predicts Advisor Success

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When I meet an advisor, I can tell within the first few minutes whether he or she is or will be successful.

It’s not difficult. I look for one trait: curiosity.

Why curiosity?

In a seminal paper published in 1994, George Loewenstein noted the critical importance of curiosity. It’s a “driving force in child development” and “one of the most important spurs to educational attainment.”

An article in Time also extolled the virtue of curiosity, noting that it “is the engine of intellectual achievement – it’s what drives us to keep learning, keep trying, keep pushing forward.”

There’s broad agreement curiosity is a valued trait. Yet, many advisors don’t exhibit it. This lack of curiosity is, in my experience, the primary reason why those advisors are not reaching their potential.


It’s difficult to exhibit curiosity about others when you are consumed with your own agenda.

Advisors often justify dominating the conversation with prospects because of their perceived need to “educate” them. This logic is misplaced and harmful to the possibility of converting the prospect into a client.

You’re not learning when you are talking. You are also not showing any interest in the prospect. This lack of appropriate attention may doom your meeting to failure.