Image Credit: Senor Anderson
This morning Jake (my VP of Accounts), Rachel (my Head Financial Coach) and I drove out to the University of Rhode Island for a meeting with Dr. Jing Xiao, a professor of family finance at the university. The meeting was fantastic: Dr. Xiao is a leading expert in consumer financial behavior, and he had a lot of insight into ways in which we can strengthen our Randomized Control Trial (learn more about it here) and find more research into the efficacy of Financial Coaching programs. We also talked about the possibility of him, or a colleague of his, serving as an External Evaluator for the study, something we’ll need as we look to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed journal in early 2016.
Unfortunately, this meeting was an outlier. Many are simply not worth the drive, not worth the time. Imagine if we had gotten nothing out of the trip: that would’ve represented nearly 9 lost hours (3 hours trip times 3 people) of productivity. The problem, of course, is how to know in advance if it’ll be worth it. I’m reminded of a question I once got from the program officer at a foundation. In response to our repayment rate of 93%, she paused for a moment and asked (I’m not making this up), “If you knew they were going to default, why did you make the loan?” Stunned, I had to explain how lending works…
Anyway, the point is that it’s hard to know if something will be worth it ahead of time; if you did, you’d never waste time! I find this especially difficult because I am constantly getting requests or suggestions for meetings: talk to Bob for advice on lending; Mary wants to ask you questions on social entrepreneurship; Jim thinks you should have lunch with Jane to get her feedback on your donor outreach…you get the idea.
One thing I know I need to get better at is say