day in a canoe

Would I spend a day in a canoe with you?

A simple question. A powerful framework for building effective teams and strong professional relationships.


Feature_Canoe_LessonsLearned2017The 5 Biggest Lessons I Learned This Year

This time of year is always busy, but if you give yourself permission to slow down a little it can also be a valuable season of self-reflection. As I optimistically look ahead to 2018, I’ve been contemplating the top lessons I learned in 2017. I’m hopeful there are some takeaways that you might find useful too.  READ FULL ARTICLE >

What is Day In A Canoe?

Have you ever looked forward to an exciting business- or career-related development only to have it turn out to be a huge disappointment? Have you placed your hope in someone only to be let down? Have you set realistic expectations only to be frustrated by lack of progress? These disappointments are experienced all too often in many areas of professional life. It’s enough to make you wonder whether investing in relationships is a path to possibilities or an exercise in futility.

“Day in a canoe” is a metaphor for evaluating and managing relationships. Compatibility is necessary for relationships of every kind to be successful. Decisions involving your business, advisors, family and friends occur every day. Each decision carries consequence. While there’s always a risk of disappointment, I learned years ago that you can take steps to improve the potential for a positive outcome.  READ FULL ARTICLE >

The 5 People You Want in Your Canoe

feature_canoe2Whether you’re figuring out a critical business problem, working on a complex project or exploring a creative vision, the people on your team can make all the difference. The journey to success begins by bringing together a mix of individuals who can work cohesively, strategically and effectively towards a common goal.

But far too often I see smart leaders stumble by surrounding themselves with people who are just like them. The problem is that someone who reflexively says “yes!” to everything and never (diplomatically) questions the rationale behind your ideas and direction can’t help you identify the blind spots that lead to costly errors and wasted time.

Sure, a go-along-to-get-along mentality is a wonderful trait to seek in a travel buddy, but it can be decidedly less helpful in the business world.   READ FULL ARTICLE >

People to Keep Out of Your Canoe at All Costs

feature_canoe3While a relaxing day in a canoe can sound appealing, it can quickly turn sour if you don’t enjoy the people you’re with. Building relationships with quality people is essential for success. The wrong person on the team can spoil the entire group dynamic. Your results will be mediocre and much of your time will be filled with frustration as you deal with the bad apple.

As you build your financial organization and pursue your goals, think carefully about who should be in your canoe. After all, you are a reflection of the company you keep. There are lots of people to steer clear of. Here are a few examples of red flags to watch for:   READ FULL ARTICLE >

What Do You Need to Thrive?

Feature_Canoe_leadership“What do I really need to thrive and be happy as a leader?” It’s probably a question you should be asking yourself from time to time. However, do you actually do it? There are times when recharging is necessary after a long canoe ride.

It can be challenging to “get reflective” when life is extremely busy and you’re constantly balancing competing priorities. But over time, hour after hour gets gobbled up by other people and eventually, you find yourself resentful or in an emotional rut. While things may appear fine on the surface, you begin to realize that you’re not operating as your best self.

Sound familiar? READ FULL ARTICLE >

4 Proven Ways to Attract Talent to Your Financial Organization

feature_recruiting_teamWhat makes good people want to work for you? Is it a competitive paycheck, generous benefits and cool perks? Sure, an attractive compensation package and appealing extras are certainly a big part of the recruiting equation for employers and hiring managers. But there’s a lot more to it. Over the course of my career I have found time and again that the best job candidates are looking for more. They want to work for an organization with a clear mission and a truly team-oriented culture. They desire the opportunity to fully utilize their skills — and seek the encouragement to hone new ones.

The bottom line is that attracting and retaining top talent is essential if your financial company is going to be successful. Here are my tips for recruiting (and keeping) the best of the best:   READ FULL ARTICLE >

Don’t Be a Hippo

feature_hippoI’m a sucker for a good analogy and I recently heard one that’s stuck with me. In fact, it’s helping me shift my approach to how I communicate with and lead my team. While at a powerful and intensive Stanford Graduate School of Business executive training event, my fellow attendees and I were instructed not to behave like hippos when we returned to our respective companies across the globe.



Then I got it. As we were reminded, a hippo has a really big mouth but small ears. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had unfortunately adopted some hippo-like habits: talking at people, not with them. I had allowed ambitious goals to pull me off track. I was regularly speaking to my talented team members, but doing less listening. I recognized that, at times, I was acting like someone with a big mouth and small ears.   READ FULL ARTICLE >

The Unexpected Skills Financial Advisors Need to Succeed

Canoe_SoftSkillsThere are certain skills and traits that financial advisors absolutely must possess. If you’re an employer, it’s critical that you keep a close eye out for these strengths and characteristics when evaluating job candidates.

What are these key selling points to look for?

A financial advisor obviously needs to be able to help clients solve financial problems, avoid pitfalls, get organized and save time. And advisors today absolutely need to be equally adept with numbers and people. OK, so that’s always been the case. But I wholeheartedly believe the “good with people” aspect is increasingly crucial for financial firms to demonstrate from top to bottom if they are to win business in an industry rife with change and disruption.   READ FULL ARTICLE >

5 Steps to Take When Your Canoe Hits Rough Waters

Canoe_RoughWatersLife, like a canoe trip, is a lot easier to manage during sunny days. But as we all know, life is not always clear skies and calm waters.

In many ways, hitting some unexpected rapids at work is like a stress test for you and those you’ve welcomed into your proverbial canoe. No matter how hard you try, as a business leader you are at times going to face turbulence — whether it comes in the form of relationship rough patches, highly problematic projects, client concerns or any number of other vexing issues that can arise despite your best-laid plans.

Here are five tips on how to navigate when things get choppy:  READ FULL ARTICLE >

About Nathan Mersereau

Nathan_CanoeNathan Mersereau is President of Planning Alternatives, but he’s also known as the “Canoe Guy.” He believes there’s a powerful business case to be made for authentically forging meaningful connections with employees, colleagues and clients. Nathan uses his canoe question as a metaphor to help people evaluate and manage professional relationships. He frequently speaks about this topic at leadership conferences and industry events. He launched this blog to further the discussion and share insights on how to boost business by being people-focused. Learn more about Nathan’s 20-plus years in the financial industry here.

Hop in the Canoe!

Want the latest “Canoe” content? Sign up for email updates now.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get in Touch

Want to send kudos? Comments? Complaints? Questions about navigating an interpersonal challenge at work? Email Nathan

Follow Nathan

twitter    linkedin    youtube