Aspire Magazine 1 - Page 74

ENDLESS SUMMER: Deitch, a triathlete and yogi, is an avid outdoorsman, often spending time on the water. BACK TO SCHOOL But then the tide turned. “When I started Commonwealth in 1979, the market and the financial services industry were on their way up,” he explains. “Then there was a big tax law change in ‘86 and a disastrous stock market crash in ‘87 and the world went upside down. Individuals and institutions were going out of business left and right. Commonwealth was heading for the shoals and I was heading for bankruptcy. Ultimately, I realized the problem was me, and that the success of Commonwealth was always going to be a function of how good I was. It turned out there was a lot I was missing. It was time to go back to school.” Deitch enrolled in Harvard Business School’s OPM Program (Owner/President Management Program), and then leveraged the skills honed there to rescue his ailing company. “I was desperately trying to learn everything and apply it all,” he says. “At the end of OPM, I had distilled my notes to 10 pages of ‘Dos and Don’ts.’ This was way too cumbersome, so I distilled it further, to one page. Eventually I got it to one word: ‘Listen.’ This was the lesson I needed to learn. But listen to what? To everything! Listen to other people, to my instinct and intuition, to the market, to macro and micro trends—and with all of my senses.” QUALITY + COMMMUNITY: COMMONWEALTH’S DNA Deitch and his team turned the company around and have never looked back. Along the way, he refined the powerful DNA that is Commonwealth and gave it a laser focus on two key things: quality and community. “We’re passionate about the pursuit of quality in every single thing that we do,” he says. “Whatever department you’re in, we want it to be the best in the industry. And since we all spend more time at work than anywhere else, the environment and community needs to be nurturing. It only makes sense! If you focus passionately on quality and have a supportive community where everyone thrives, you’re going to attract, cultivate, and keep the best people—and they in turn will attract, delight and retain your clients.” Today, Commonwealth is the largest privately owned independent brokerage firm in the country, with over $100 billion under management and over $1 billion in annual revenues. While touring the Boston office where 700 employees work (there’s also a San Diego office), the sense of quality and community is everywhere. On each floor, employees call out, “Hey, Joe!” and he replies with their first name. Contemporary art is displayed throughout, much of which he acquires at Art Basel Miami, one of three places where he keeps a home. “I still like to live in perpetual summer,” he says with a grin. THE NEXT TH CHAPTER: THE THE KNOWLEDGE KNOWLEDGE It’s that eagerness to embrace the best of everything (weather included), that gives Deitch such Joe Deitch a rich life. He’s not just a successful businessman who can quote Einstein, Vince Lombardi, and numerous spiritual thinkers, he’s a generous soul filled with curiosity and passion. And he applies what he calls “universal laws”—the skill-sets that lead to success in any venture—to whatever catches his fancy, whether it’s creating an award-winning workplace or crafting his forthcoming book, The Knowledge. It’s hard to imagine that anything shy of an encyclopedia could capture this man’s life lessons, pitfalls, epiphanies, and philosophies. For 20 years, he’s amassed and organized the material into a book (due out in the summer of 2017). “It’s not really my wisdom,” he says, “but the wisdom of our ancestors—both East and West—and scientists. There’s no shortage of important information out there, especially now with the Internet. But what seems to be missing is a comprehensive framework for organizing it all.” In The Knowledge, Joe aims to provide readers with an indispensable guide—a manual for life that can immediately make a difference. The book is divided into two parts: Awareness and Action. It strives to turn “Frustration into Fascination,” as it examines not only what to do, but why we don’t. SUCCESS IS A FUNCTION OF PASSION, PURPOSE, AND PEOPLE. IF WE EMBRACE SOMETHING THAT SPEAKS TO OUR PURPOSE IT ACKNOWLEDGES AND HONORS WHO WE ARE. 72 ISSUE ONE | ASPIRE PHOTO BY: MELISSA MAHONEY PHOTOGRAPHY helming the Cambridge Group, he founded Commonwealth Financial Network in 1979. “I was young, dumb, inexperienced, and underfunded. It was the perfect combination of clueless—otherwise I might never have done it,” Joe says with a smile. “We offered a better mousetrap. We appealed to financial advisors like myself and helped them grow. Word got around.” And it got around fast. Commonwealth doubled in size every year for its first five years, earning a spot on Inc. magazine’s “fastest growing companies” list for three years running, from 1985-1987. ASPIRE | ISSUE ONE 73