Maintain Your Emotional Bank Account

March 12 is “National Girl Scout Day”, recognizing the date on which the Girl Scouts was founded in 1912—109 years ago! As a girl and young woman, I benefited from the many positive attributes of the Girl Scout program—making friendships, building confidence and learning life skills.

At its core, practicing the art of maintaining strong Emotional Bank Accounts reminds us that it is … [+]

Among the many skills I learned were the beginnings of what would become a strong entrepreneurial spirit as I, like millions of others over the years, sold the iconic Girl Scout cookies. Learning basic transaction skills, taking responsibility for making my customers happy and applying the proceeds from my efforts toward a good cause are things that have lived with me, forming the basis for a lifelong entrepreneurial drive and informing the business philosophy that I continue to practice today. Thousands of Girl Scouts sell cookies each year, learning the same lessons I did—the only difference is that the cookies I sold cost only 23 cents per box!

As National Girl Scout Day is celebrated, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a concept I shared with a group of Girl Scouts at a Gold Award Event a few years ago. The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. I was honored to present some remarks at this event and tried to focus on a few concepts that might resonate with the fine young women who were honored—and inspired me—that day.


One such concept, for me, has been one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned. It fits well with the Girl Scout philosophy, which is why I discussed it at the Gold Award Event. And it resonates strongly with my professional philosophy, serving as a blueprint for how to best succeed as a financial advisor. That concept is how to manage Emotional Bank Accounts.

I was first introduced to the concept of an Emotional Bank Account through the writing of Stephen Covey. He described how everything we say and everything we do makes an impact—either positive or negative—on someone else and that results in either a deposit to or withdrawal from your Emotional Bank Account with that person.

As investors and as financial advisors, we spend a lot of time focusing on our investment accounts and those of our clients. We carefully manage them to aim for long-term growth, limit volatility and achieve purpose-filled financial goals. We take notice of each deposit and every withdrawal. We give thoughtful consideration to each investment, how it performs and when to rebalance it.

As I built and grew my own business, I soon realized that my success was determined not only by how well I managed each client’s investment account but also—and perhaps more important—by how well I managed my Emotional Bank Account with each client.

It started out simply. Whenever I made a promise to do something for a client, I knew that following through with that promise would result in a deposit into my Emotional Bank Account—my EBA—with that client. They would feel better about me and our relationship because I kept my word. I quickly learned that it didn’t matter how large or small the promise was. If I kept it, I made a deposit into my EBA with that client. If I failed to keep my promise, I took a withdrawal. I soon learned that the same thing happened with other interactions. Kind words, a smile or a warm handshake at the beginning of a meeting would result in an Emotional Bank Account deposit, while running a bit late or appearing distracted would result in a withdrawal.

The truth is, I realized that every time I had an interaction with anyone—a client, a potential client, a co-worker or team member—every single contact was an opportunity to either make a deposit into my EBA with that person or to take a withdrawal from it. Every contact was an opportunity to make the person with whom I was interacting feel something positive about our relationship, to grow our Emotional Bank Account. Of course, not every interaction would result in a deposit. It’s only human to stumble, make mistakes, have bad days. Still, by remembering how my words and actions can impact my Emotional Bank Accounts, I made more deposits than withdrawals and, over time, my Emotional Bank Accounts with my clients grew and with them, so did my business.

Think about the people in your professional life—your clients and co-workers. Do they have “money in the bank” when it comes to your Emotional Bank Accounts with them? Or, are their Emotional Bank Accounts “overdrawn”? Your professional reputation is built on your portfolio of Emotional Bank Accounts. You can’t buy a good reputation and you can’t build one overnight. It is with small, intentional deposits made into your Emotional Bank Accounts—with words and actions intended to positively impact those with whom you interact—that your Emotional Bank Accounts will grow and with them your professional reputation and business.

When people talk about a bad reputation, they are really speaking about poor Emotional Bank Accounts. Once you’ve overdrawn too many accounts, it takes a lot of hard work and often a very long time to restore them. Still, it’s not a zero-sum game. And every deposit into an EBA, no matter how small, makes an astonishing difference. At its core, an Emotional Bank Account underscores the simple truth that how we treat each other matters a great deal.

It’s this simple but profound concept that I discussed with the Girl Scouts during their Gold Award Event. Of course, they didn’t have clients or co-workers, but they had other important people in their lives and the lessons of well-maintained Emotional Bank Accounts apply to those relationships as well. Striving to maintain a diverse portfolio of positive Emotional Bank Accounts echoes the core values of organizations like the Girl Scouts that have inspired generations of servant leaders. To quote the Girl Scout law: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

At its core, practicing the art of maintaining strong Emotional Bank Accounts reminds us that it is in serving others that we create joy and happiness, not only for others but for ourselves. In doing so, our success—in business, in our relationships, in life—comes as a happy by-product. With our Emotional Bank Accounts in mind, we should pay close attention to all the interactions we have in our lives. When we shop somewhere, or meet someone in an office—or these days on zoom, or call someone on the telephone, we should pay attention to how we feel when we leave the experience and how we believe we made others feel after interacting with us.

Many times, when we interact with someone, we are too often thinking about what they can do for us or how we can manage the situation to our benefit. If, instead, we turn that around and think about how we can make them feel better and how that can improve their life, in even some small way, what would be the impact? It doesn’t have to be elaborate; it doesn’t have to be large. It simply needs to be positive.

In life there are no guarantees, but I can guarantee this. If you spend your personal and professional lives helping other people feel good about themselves, making deposits into your Emotional Bank Accounts with them, you will find more happiness and success than you could ever imagine, If you focus on making deposits into your Emotional Bank Accounts, you will be making a meaningful difference in the lives of others as well as an investment in your own happiness and success. It’s as easy as enjoying a box of Girl Scout cookies.

So, today, do something—anything—to make an Emotional Bank Account deposit. You won’t regret it. And, whether you were a Girl Scout or know one, please join me in wishing the Girl Scouts a very happy birthday… and maybe buy a box of cookies or two.

Hudock Capital Group, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor. Certain representatives of Hudock Capital Group, LLC are also Registered Representatives offering securities through APW Capital, Inc., Member FINRA / SIPC. 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ, 07866 (800-637-3211). Check the background of this firm on FINRA’s BrokerCheck. (02/21)

With more than four decades of financial services experience, Barbara B. Hudock is the Chief Executive Officer & Founding Partner of Hudock Capital Group, where she leads…