Monday, September 19, 2011

Pint sized passion: Janet Xuccoa

Janet Xuccoa does nothing by halves.

The Gilligan Rowe and Associates (GRA) partner has not one but two degrees, has created and successfully administers the Trust Planning department for GRA,  successfully written, published and released her first book, and is working on her second .

When asked why two degress – when most of us had enough trouble getting one – she looks somewhat bemused.
“Two reasons,” she told me.
“First, I believe in stacking your deck with cards that will ensure you have a great chance of achieving what you set out to achieve in life.
“Secondly, I have always been terrified of failing at whatever I do - failure to me means not achieving the goals that are set.
“So it seemed to me that having two hard core degrees behind me meant the deck was stacked in my favour and therefore my chances of failure were lessened.”

Law, Janet says, allows her to indulge her joy of words
“I like the clever way you can put them together to say something witty or challenging or thought provoking.
“With accounting, I like seeing how numbers behave and what they mean.  Numbers frequently tell a story all by themselves – a bit like words really.”

Janet was working in an inner city accounting practice and looking for a new challenge when she spotted an advertisement from GRA calling for applications for a manager’s role. She knew immediately they needed more than they were asking and took her tenacity into the role.
Within three months she was asked to become a partner.
“From the moment I commenced working with GRA I developed the role I held.
“I was however very fortunate to have two Partners behind me who gave me this licence and who had the confidence in me to get the job done.”

Over the years Janet has seen how people can get caught in the “litigation net” and this has fostered a passion for Trust work.
“They may for instance not have caused another person to lose money or suffer damage but because they were involved in some way, they are sued.
“When this occurs, those people can lose everything because they don’t have insurance to cover the event.
“When they lose everything, they end up with no assets, huge debts and a complete loss of self esteem and confidence.”

In other words – true to her nature – Janet sees having a Trust as having  another card in your deck. Family Trusts 101 writtten, published and released by Janet is also part of that deck. Although she primarily wrote the book to help demystify Trusts and help people administer them and fulfill their Trustee duties in accordance with the law – she also wanted to be sure she didn’t become “one of those advisers who create a Trust for a client, take their money and then turn their back on them”.
“I got mad at the professional advisors out there who are very good at creating Trusts for clients but absolutely hopeless at telling their clients how they should run their Trusts.
“You see when clients fail to administer their Trusts, it’s an easy task to attack their Trusts.

Self publishing was both a creative and a business decision. Two well known publishers wanted to publish the book which involved buying the copyright; as is the norm in book publishing, the publishing house would then  have chosen the type font, paper type, and layout of the book.
“I didn’t want a publisher to have this type of control so I chose to self publish.
“That said, I would never have been able to get this book out into the public domain without the wonderful support I’ve had.”

Since the launch of the book, Janet has been inundated with orders and is viewing the entire experience with a mix of amusement, relief and excitement.
“Relief that the tension to get it to market is over and excited to see something I’ve done in other peoples’ hands.”

Whether she is talking about law, accounting, or writing it soon becomes clear there are three vital ingredients to Janet’s success. The first and the most obvious is passion - Janet likes to be deeply involved in whatever she is  doing and says she never wants to live a life without passion in it.
“Passion for what ever I am involved in drives me to do the very best I can.”
It is however balanced she says with an equal dose of fear – of failure.
“Fear of failing on the other hand drives me to run harder and faster at whatever task is put in front of me.
“Passion and fear are two vital ingredients that work well for me but they aren’t without their costs.”

The third is helping others.
At a large funeral attended by several hundred people she was struck by the number of speeches that spoke not of the deceased’s successes and achievements but of their kindness in words, deeds and actions.
“I decided there and then at that funeral that when I leave this world, I want people to think of me like that and so I have set out to help others through the work I do.
“That’s why practising the principle “paying it forward” is just so important to me personally.”

Paying it forward includes helping women take personal responsibility for the life they  want.  This includes self responsibility for designing their physical, spiritual and financial life.
“This means getting some education (reading, asking questions) and putting in place a plan which contains goals and strategy for achieving the life you desire,” Janet says after some thought.
“It also means reviewing the plan every now and again and dealing with any issues that come up.”

To do this Janet recommends gathering brilliant advisors around you and not becoming a a person who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
“Good advisors charge good money but they will steer you in the right direction.  Also ensure you have great friends around you and don’t neglect them.  Have people who will encourage you, give you a bed for the night, who will help, support and motivate you.  At the same time, keep your eyes and ears open.  Know who is not in your camp and not on your side. But don’t let what you hear and see, affect what’s in your heart.  Just do what’s in your plan, in a well thought out, respectful manner and prove those who are against you wrong.”

Her last piece advice could come straight from Sex and the City's  Carrie and has a ring of sincerity that proves a lot of thought and more than a few tears have helped formulate it.
“You should buy more shoes, watch more movies, fall in love, eat more of your favourite foods, travel, laugh more, hang out with friends  … work out and then try to do what makes you feel happy and try to do it on a regular basis.  Sometimes we have to programme time in our lives to do the things that make us feel happy and content.”
While she works on adding another card to her deck, Janet is taking her own advice and taking some well earned rest and relaxation – with just a smidgeon of shoe shopping thrown in for good measure.

©2010 Angelique Jurd – All Rights Reserved.  

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