In a vast field of trees, everyone is busy shaking branches, seeking immediate rewards.
But what if the real secret to long-lasting success lies beneath the surface, in the art of planting seeds and becoming the sustenance for the most fruitful growth of all?
This is the story of Adam Katz, Partner at Corient, a private wealth advisory firm based in New York.
Now, if you’re thinking, “I don’t want to hear from a private wealth advisor today.” Hold that thought …
Adam is more than just a financial expert – he’s an entrepreneur and true Human First Leader with an incredibly inspiring story to tell.
Keep reading to explore how playing the long game and prioritizing relationships in business can be your biggest competitive advantage yet.
Adam’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Before we begin, here’s what you need to know about Adam …
For around 20 years, Adam worked in private wealth at Merrill Lynch. Despite everything pointing him to being a lifer, Adam decided to found his own private wealth company, Kore Private Wealth.
Leveraging the fact that business is all about humans, Adam set out to prioritize authentic relationships in business, happiness, fulfillment, and, as a by-product, remarkable success.
In just four years, Adam orchestrated a multi-million dollar exit from Kore Private Wealth – a speedy feat rarely achieved in the startup environment!
Adam’s story offers an insightful take on a fun and fulfilling route to success, grounded in authentic relationships in business and the joy of genuinely helping others.
How Relationships in Business Welcome Breakthrough Success
Sitting down with Mindmaven’s Founder and CEO, Patrick Ewers, Adam shares what caused him to realize there is a better way of achieving success.
While humbly emphasizing the great partners he had along the way, Adam describes his unique approach to business as more of a venture capitalist than a private wealth advisor.
During the 2010-2013 era of New York tech, Adam dedicated his days to helping individuals in the startup community with what mattered to them most.
Adam: “I’d go out in meetings, and I’d chat with people at LPQ, at WeWork …
I’d just spend all my day helping people with what mattered to them most. Because no one needed me, they didn’t have any money yet.
But I realized that in the startup community, which is really where I clustered, they all needed talent for their teams, they needed capital for their business, they needed revenue.
And I started spending my day connecting to those things that mattered to them most.”
This approach allowed Adam to secure a uniquely relevant place in the minds of startup leaders, building the foundations of solid, long-term, fruitful relationships in business.
The Secret To Client Success – The Eisenhower Matrix
You’ve probably heard of the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s a simple task management tool for prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance.
However, Adam strategically uses this matrix to become incredibly relevant by positioning himself amongst his clients’ highest priorities.
Adam explains: “I said, ‘Hey, if I can live in their important and urgent box, they’re never going to reject me because all I’m doing is helping them with things that they’ve told me they need help with.’
And it was just a way more fun way to spend my day.”
By asking startup founders directly, “What’s most important to you?” Adam was able to connect people with high-value introductions from his own network who would be just the type of person they need to solve their problems.
Adam says: “Suddenly, I became a headhunter.”
Why the Long Game Could Be Your Biggest Competitive Advantage
While others were initially confused by Adam’s selfless human-first approach to relationships in business, playing the long game was the key to Adam finding superior success.
Adam: “My viewpoint was I wanted to be these people’s advisors for years before they ever became a client. Because by the time we got there, there was a real relationship that we had formed.
So, just a very different approach, the proverbial long game that everyone says that they play.
Everyone says that they’re long-term. I just think most people don’t have the mindset of doing what matters most to people.”
What Is the Key To Creating Value?
When discussing the key to creating value, Patrick and Adam sharpen their focus on the impact of intent.
Let’s dive deeper into why it’s not just about the services offered but the genuine intention behind them that creates value so great you find the secret to never getting rejected.
Patrick explains: “Very often, it’s not that important that the value you offer gets consumed …
Actually, 90 percent of the value experience is the intent you’re showing.
Simply by going out of your way to find a candidate – even if that candidate ends up not joining – you win almost as goodwill as if that person actually joins.”
Adam agrees, adding: “All I did for years was look at my introduction activity – those are my goals.
It was making introductions that were really meaningful, and the win for the week was never assets and revenue.
Success was, ‘Man, you introduced me to that COO, not really a great fit for me, but my other friend who started another company, he’s exactly who she’s looking for.’
It happened all the time, and it was so fun … Suddenly, my name landing in their inbox didn’t look like someone ever looking to sell anything to them. I was a helper.
It was just a way more fun way to spend my day in a seat that should get rejected 99 percent of the time.”
“I pretty much rarely ever got rejected because I was just spending my time helping people with what mattered to them most.”
Seed Planting vs Tree Shaking – The Root of Success
Of course, you may be thinking, “Sure, this sounds awesome, but how do you survive along the way? At some point, my team and I actually need to make some money!”
Adam explains despite this common concern, operating in this way is actually the secret to sustainable success.
Adam states: “Most people who are in business development and private wealth go onto the field and see the biggest lush tree they can possibly find.
By the time you get closer to the tree, you realize there’s a ring of tree shakers. Because it’s visible, everyone can see it.”
“I ended up finding myself on the other side of the field, where there was no tree and, therefore, no people.
It was just a seed beneath the surface, and by providing introductions for capital, talent, revenue – I became the sustenance.”
“My vision was in five to ten years, a lot of these seeds will go through their sapling phase and become this robust tree.
The difference is, there I’m part of the trunk – the root system.
On the other side of the field, I’m an annoyance. And I never wanted to be an annoyance. Who would want to be? That doesn’t make you feel good.”
How To Get More Clients – Becoming Part of Their Root System
So, what’s the trick that makes this approach so successful?
Creating so much value that the clients you want become the shakers.
While everyone is shaking the same tree and showing up when it’s too late, you become part of their root system by building relationships in business early.
Adam explains: “When the big lush trees need help, they don’t really look at the tree shakers, the annoyances. They go inward to their own trunk and their root system.
That root system was connected to all these people I had been helping for years and years and years.
So what started happening was I would start getting calls from people who were quite wealthy. I never called them – they called me.
They said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for someone like you. These two entrepreneurs, I think the world of that I’ve been backing, told me you’re the guy, and I’d love to meet with you.’
So, it allowed me along the way to start really building a business that was pretty big pretty quickly.”
Patrick adds: “What you will find along the way is that in that field where nobody else is, there might be already some trees that just don’t have leaves.
But you just show up in that field when the leaves are popping up before anybody else comes … “
“It’s a numbers game.
The more you do it, the more you’ll actually stumble across these trees that are about to get some leaves.”
“But you’re still there doing things of value to them before they know that they have leaves.”
How Do You Find and Maintain Relevancy in Business
The key factor of success in this approach of prioritizing relationships in business is the ability to have relevancy for your clients.
Patrick shares his insights: “I talked to a lot of young people, and they come to me and say …
‘Hey, you know what? I want to build my network. I want to be successful.
I want to have a network of powerful people, but the one thing I struggle with is that what I do and I want to sell to them or offer to them is not that high on their relevancy.’
A lot of people struggle with being relevant.
The people that shake the tree to get the leaves they’re basically only using one tool to be relevant, and that tool is not that relevant. Therefore, that shaking feels a little bit annoying.
So the solution you’re offering up to our audience here is basically an exceptionally powerful thing …”
“Just do one thing, and that is find what is relevant for them.”
“Be that person that person turns to – to just have somebody who’s listening to them and is actually pushing them harder than anybody else is.
Because everybody else has their own agenda, and you don’t have to have it.
You gave us a very important example of what might happen. That these saplings have a root system that actually might even connect all the way to that field with the trees with a big root.
So, all of a sudden, you get access to those trees in a way that you aren’t annoying.”
Adam: “It absolutely does …
Suddenly, I’d have people with a hundred million dollars that everyone knows who they are – they’re calling me.
Because I’m helping people in their network that they believe are smart, maybe not as wealthy as them yet. And those people that I’ve been helping are like, ‘No, no, you’ve got to call Adam.’
That’s how you survive along the way …”
But this isn’t just about surviving; Adam shares why he champions this approach to success:
“By doing what is helpful to an amazing group of people, with no specific expectation of what will ever come back your way.
That’s how you win, and it’s fun.”
Patrick: “Yeah, exactly. It’s amazingly fun because, I mean, who doesn’t want that call?”
How To Live a Fun and Fulfilling Life – That’s Super Successful
As we’ve seen today, achieving success through growing relationships in business is all about being intentional. It’s about being intentional about how you spend your time, the things you focus on achieving, and ultimately, the life you want to create for yourself.
Adam reflects: “It’s a much more fun existence to be helping people all day than trying to annoy people or sell them something that maybe they don’t actually need.”
Patrick: “And so it’s fun, but basically also successful, right?
What feels like a detour is actually probably the fastest way you could ever find to be successful by using relationships.”
Adam: “I’ve come up with a little funny moniker of, you know, it’s not biz dev as in business development, it’s ship dev as in relationship development.
And maybe one day, somehow, business will come. But if your true, pure mind says, ‘I just want to develop relationships,’ two things happen:
- You have massively parabolic growth at some point
- You have way more fun
If I can spend as close to 100 percent of my day helping people and getting amazing human feedback, what an amazing way to spend life.”
What Makes a Successful Person in Business
Adam’s story is not simply about how to become successful through building strong relationships in business …
Adam is proof that not only can focusing on your relationships in business make you successful beyond your wildest dreams, but also operating in this way is key to a fun and fulfilling life.
With such a short time on this planet, we must not spend time chasing something that actually isn’t meaningful to us.
Patrick reflects on our discussion with Adam: “By operating in that way, you are actually going to live a life that will feel meaningful, that will feel fulfilled, and, first and foremost, happy. And frankly, just fun.
So, go out and find any other opportunity or any other approach that you can pursue that allows you to be wildly successful and happy at the same time.
You will only find it if you center around this notion of being human-first and focusing on relationships.
Adam, thank you so much.”
Here’s How To Identify the Legends in Your Network
While opportunities to grow relationships in business that provide phenomenal long-term rewards may seem random, they often originate from specific segments within your network.
Here at Mindmaven, we know how important the process of identifying the most valuable people in your network is. That’s why we’ve created a worksheet to guide you through the process.
Our Identify Legends Notion template provides step-by-step guidance to systematically identify legends in your network and stay organized while building strong relationships in business that contribute to mutual success.
Within our Notion template, you’ll find a dedicated spreadsheet for identifying legends within your referral groups. You’ll also learn how to decide who to reach out to and effective methods to increase overall mindshare.