By Bryan K. Johnson, Managing Partner – Johnson & Company

Coach John Wooden is widely considered the greatest basketball coach of all time.
Many believe he is the greatest coach of any sport. He won 10 national championships in 16 years at UCLA.

Most new and smaller managers are poor listeners with prospects.

This impacts success raising assets, as it prevents CLOSING!

“CLOSING”, requires HOLISTICALLY understanding the prospect.


Nothing puts a “relationship” i.e. “allocation” in jeopardy faster than poor listening.

You’re doing all the TALKING, you don’t have a commitment to LISTENING!

Most new and smaller managers fail to recognize the levels of listening.

“Listening” for YOUR turn to TALK!

THIS IS THE WORST LEVEL OF “LISTENING”. Waiting for the other side to shut up long enough so we can tell them how their position is faulty and by extension, how great we are, how much smarter we are and how exceptional our performance is. This undermines communication, true conversation, a consultative approach and any possibility to form a trust-based relationship.

Listening For The “Gist”.

This is listening long enough to get the gist of what the other side is saying before we refocus on our internal voice, which is formulating a reaction from our self-interested perspective. We may not articulate this reaction but internally we are in a dialogue with ourselves about how what is being said does not line up with our logic and objective.

Listening To Rebut

At the next level, we listen to rebut. This is where we listen long enough until prospect hits a trigger. The trigger is something in the statement or phrase with which we can argue or rebut. Interjecting with a quick response is a clear indication that we are not listening. At these levels we are focusing on our agenda at the expense of theirs.

Listening for Logic

At the 4th level, using inference, we listen for the internal logic of what is being said. If this is their perspective, their conclusion or their judgement, why does it make sense to them?

Listening for Emotion

At the 5th level we listen for any emotions and or identity issues that may be driving their position. These emotions or issues may (unlikely) or may not (most assuredly) make sense to us but at this level we recognize their significance to the other side as they talk about what is important to them.

Listening for Their Unique Perspective

This is the level where you can CLOSE! We are listening for what their argument, phrase, or statement says about who they are. What does it symbolize or represent to them? This is where we filter their emotion and logic through a prism of empathy. It is where a new or smaller manager should be when marketing. Getting to a deeper appreciation of the prospects unique challenges and concerns. If we do not understand them HOLISTICALLY, we are not in a position to CLOSE!. If we do not understand them, we will never influence them. It it is difficult to maintain this level of “listening”, it requires skill, discipline, focus and practice but you need to be ready and willing to get here if you really want to CLOSE!.


Listening is an art. Unfortunately, I have seen from firsthand experience very few new and smaller managers know how to do it properly. However, carefully listening is especially important for new and smaller managers/funds marketing and raising assets. In this day when everyone carries a smartphone or tablet, people don’t focus on each other when they’re together. This holds true for new and smaller managers as well as poor marketers. Listening requires putting aside ego to listen to someone else, stay in the moment and be present.

By mastering the art of listening, you will avoid frustration AND failure raising assets.

Epictetus, the Greek philosopher wrote:
“We have two ears and one mouth — for a good reason.”

In marketing and fundraising training sessions, I coach the 2-2-1 Rule based on Epictetus:

“With 2 ears, 2 eyes & 1 mouth: LISTEN and OBSERVE twice as much as you speak.”

As always, continued success and I welcome your questions.


Bryan Johnson, Managing Partner
Direct: 512-786-1569 or [email protected]


Johnson & Company is the ONLY firm singularly dedicated to delivering objective, conflict-free, client-focused, experienced, marketing and fundraising services to sub-institutional hedge funds. Since 2010, we have provided 400+ managers/funds with economical, expedient, effective and efficient marketing and fundraising execution. As a result of 30+ years experience, we serve as THE intelligent interface and leading source of marketing information, insight and intelligence for new, early-stage and sub-$150 million hedge funds.

Johnson & Company
Marketing Specialists For Sub-Institutional Hedge Funds
Austin, Texas 78701