Does the thought of reading your plan document make your skin crawl or excite you for all of the information it contains at your fingertips? Would you rather look a diagram of how to build your daughter’s play kitchen or read the written instructions (in all 5 languages thank you)? Questions like these are often used to help you identify if you are left brain dominant or right brain dominant. Traditionally, is has been thought that if you identify with loving to read manuals, following the instructions, and diving into the details then you are left brain dominant; whereas if you respond strongly to art and images, want to be left alone to do your own thing, and value the big picture over the details then you are right brain. Here are some questions that Caleb Bagwell and I answered that will further illustrate the differences in the dominate brains. Can you guess what we are?
As a birthday present, your friend bought you one of the latest kitchen gadgets on the market – apparently, it can slice, dice, and make juice at the same time. The only problem is, you have no idea how the darn thing works. What do you do?
Jamie: This could go a couple of ways. The first thing that I’d do is get online and look-up the instruction manual. If the manual could not be located, it would promptly be returned or thrown out the window!
Caleb: This one is easy, just start pressing buttons! Seriously, the box told me all the stuff that it did and so trial and error will be all I need to figure out the correct combination of buttons or knobs to get things going!
If you could have 3 hours to yourself to go do whatever you liked, what would you do?
Jamie: Well, I have 2 young children, so I would like to think that I would lay out by the pool and read a good book, but since I have a hard time relaxing until the house is clean, I’d probably end up cleaning.
Caleb: Totally depends on the weather. If it is sunny that I would be outside on a jog or grilling something tasty. If it is rainy that it is definitely a movie/nap opportunity, with PIZZA.
How would you describe the neatness of your desk?
Jamie: Everything has its place and even though it may not be as neat as I would like, I know my system and how to find things.
Caleb: Perfect Chaos, but really it’s more like LIFO. Things go in stacks and depending on when I was working on what project tells me how far down the stack to look for it. Once a coworker cleaned me desk for me and I had anxiety attack! How was I supposed to find anything!
Would you rather draw someone a map or tell them how to get where they are going?
Jamie: Draw a map or rather give them the address so they can plug it into their GSP.
Caleb: Actually I’m pretty bad with direction and worse at drawing. I would say use your GPS your holding one in your hand!
Before you take a stand on an issue, do you gather all of the facts or go with your gut right away?
Jamie: Definitely gather all of the facts; it is important to me to know why I am making the decision that I am making.
Caleb: Depends on the outcome resulting in my conviction. If we are taking a stand on whether the crunch wrap supreme or beefy crunch burrito is better I am ready now, but if we are taking a stand that will affect others I would probably want someone who is an expert on the subject to help me with the details.
How quickly can you tell if you like someone?
Jamie: Not very. I am usually pretty cautious when it comes to forging new relationships.
Caleb: Seconds. Seriously but that’s kind of an unfair questions because I tend to like everyone until they prove me wrong.
You may be asking yourself “why this is important in the context of 401(k) plans?” What it comes down to is that traditionally retirement plan education has appealed to predominately the analytical, left brain by doling out a bunch of numbers and figures that tend to overwhelm, confuse, and, frankly, bore the people who you are trying to appeal to. We are aiming to change the norm by not ignoring the details and the numbers, but rather by incorporating the emotional, creative right brain to help the left brain process the information. In fact, recent research has shown that the brain performs better when both sides are involved, especially when completing tasks associated with mathematics (American Psychological Association, April 11, 2014) like determining how much to defer into a 401(k) plan.
That’s right Jamie, I have to remind myself sometimes that many people enjoy the details but the fact is people need to know “Why” they are making decision. Helping them find the “Why” behind their retirement savings make the processing of the details possible. They need to understand they are not saving for a number they are saving for trip to Disney with the grandkids! Spouting out number at a group of your employees is not connecting with them, helping them channel their creativity and use it to paint their retirement picture bridges that gap.
Jamie Kertis, AIF®, QKA
Retirement Plan Specialist
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 /Birmingham, AL 35242
Office: 205.970.9088 / Toll-Free: 866.695.5162
Follow Jamie on LinkedIn
Follow Jamie’s Blog