EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Putting your best foot forward

From our daily member newsletter on December 9, 2018

The development of a resume can be a long and involved process. There are so many ideas that others have to share with you, and each person with whom you speak has their own perspective about what is right and what is wrong. Your resume is also in part an historical document charged with chronicling your career from formal education through most recent work assignment. Some of the nonsense, misapplied these days, centers on the idea that only the most recent 10 years are of interest to the reader. True, but that doesn’t mean leave it off all together. The formatting and shaping of a resume is so much easier today than it was back in 1991 when I faced [ Read more… ]

The failure to communicate

From our daily member newsletter on December 6, 2018

The story I hear more often than not is how perfect someone was for a particular posting and their amazement that they didn’t get a call. Of course, there are a lot of possible reasons why someone doesn’t get a response. It could be they applied too late. It could be that there were requirements for the job that only became obvious once responses rolled in. Criteria that didn’t seem attainable are suddenly appearing on so many of the credentials of candidates received that those without it aren’t even considered. My only concern tonight is to address the possibility that you don’t communicate your areas of expertise in an easily absorbed manner. Let’s put ourselves on the other side of [ Read more… ]

Don’t be lazy

From our daily member newsletter on December 5, 2018

In a sense, a sailboat isn’t a complicated machine. Compared with other means of transportation such as cars or planes, there really isn’t much to a sailboat. Sails are pretty simple, and if you are like me, you don’t use the motor if you can avoid it. (We only burned 50 gallons of diesel this summer, including our vacation. How much wear and tear could a motor get being used that little?) Laziness tends to go right along with the summer, doesn’t it? And after a long day in the hot sun, it is easy to forget that this “thing” on which your life depends may need some attention when you would much rather head off for a nice hot [ Read more… ]

Presenting your credentials

From our daily member newsletter on December 4, 2018

Job search is a draining and discouraging process at times. (Or, is that most of the time?) Well, maybe not, unless you make it so. The truth is that most of us financial types stay in jobs a lot longer than those in other disciplines like marketing or sales. In addition, most of the work we do is being Mr./Ms. Inside where others know us. The need to “explain ourselves” just isn’t part of our makeup. (Besides, do they want that check signed or not? Ah, the golden rule. He/she who has the gold or controls the gold, makes the rules.) At the end of the movie “Good Fellas,” the wise guy who has ratted out his fellow mobsters is [ Read more… ]

Living in an iPhone and Twitter world

From our daily member newsletter on December 3, 2018

Many of the inventions of the modern world are either the best things or the worst things to ever happen to us. It is a true fact (as opposed to a false fact) that we are now able to do a lot more communicating with each other than ever before. Personally, I stand amazed that I send out our newsletter to over 38,000 members every night. Had Al Gore not invented the Internet, our newsletter and perhaps The FENG itself would simply not be possible. While we all accept the power of these new communication tools, I fear that many of us have not come to terms with the burden they place on us. Please know I am not talking [ Read more… ]

On being a society of friends

From our daily member newsletter on December 2, 2018

The FENG is a society of friends. In order to become a member of our august body you need to find a sponsor, someone who will hopefully watch over you. I suppose, it is often only after a few days or weeks of membership that you can fully appreciate the value of this act of friendship. There are many things we do in our little society that builds on this initial act of friendship. Each week I publish a directory of new members. I hope that each of you takes the time to review this listing for folks you know, and folks you might want to know, AND that you take the time to write or call at least a [ Read more… ]

Talking on the phone

From our daily member newsletter on November 29, 2018

Most of us in the financial community find talking on the telephone to be one of the more challenging things we do. I believe the primary reason is that most of our work is accomplished in written form. When we do present our work to the boss or to our peers, it is usually done face to face and to a very large degree, we set the agenda. In other words, we know the topics and the typical questions that are going to be asked and we are prepared for them. It is for this reason that working the phone can be difficult for us. (Actually, it is probably difficult for everyone!) If you think about the communications aspects of [ Read more… ]

Don’t pretend to be what you’re not

From our daily member newsletter on November 28, 2018

I have over the years had endless discussions with our many members on the topic of disguising your age or generalizing your background and despite my best arguments, I find people still doing it. Hopefully it is not the same people. (Why don’t they listen to me?) Actually, I am not whining. Everyone in our membership is an adult many times over. Still, in times of stress and with advice coming from all directions, much of which is in significant disagreement, it is hard to choose. Others provide compelling opinions as to why this or that is correct. It’s just that they usually don’t past the “smell test.” All advice needs to be benchmarked by your own logic. Put yourself [ Read more… ]

Getting from here to there

From our daily member newsletter on November 27, 2018

Sailing can be a very simple or a very complicated activity. It depends on how you want to approach it. To get from here to there can be planned on a very simple basis or a very complicated basis. For example, if you are sailing across Long Island Sound from North to South to a particular destination, it doesn’t hurt from a planning stand point to consider the fact that the dominant wind in our part of the world is southwest. In addition, the tidal current which you also should consider runs East and West, so you have to know the state of the tide. At its full force, it can be pushing you in one direction or another at [ Read more… ]

In the box thinking

From our daily member newsletter on November 26, 2018

I know that all of us take great pride in being “out of the box” thinkers, but there are situations that taking an innovative approach is the same as shooting yourself in the foot. One of those situations is in being innovative with the standard resume format. The traditional resume begins with your contact information: name, address (including email address) and your phone numbers. A summary, much like your 90-second announcement should follow. Next is your work history in reverse chronological order with a short definition of what each company’s business is all about, your titles and the years you held them and for your more recent jobs going back say 15 years, some accomplishments. You end with your educational [ Read more… ]

Giving up is not really a good idea

From our daily member newsletter on November 25, 2018

At some point during a long job search I often get an email from a member in which the primary message is about “the futility of it all.” Having been out of work myself for almost two full years in 1991 and 1992, I guess I can say I’ve been there and done that. Being out of work is never easy, and but it is especially hard on those of us who are older. It’s not just that employers are looking to cut costs and our big salaries are a good target, it is also that we are at that point in our lives when we are faced with particularly large financial obligations. This could be college for our teenagers [ Read more… ]

From Black Friday to New Year’s Eve

From our daily member newsletter on November 20, 2018

I know many of you will find it hard to believe, but we are now in a golden period for networking, networking and MORE networking. So, I hope you will please have at it. A lot of people believe that holiday times and especially the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve are the worst times for networking, but they’re dead wrong. During this time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, let’s start with the idea that it’s PARTY TIME! Even though the stock market is falling (and rising), companies will have planned holiday gatherings. It’s hard not to! While they may not be the elaborate events we all remember from our early days of employment during other [ Read more… ]

The Hotel California

From our daily member newsletter on November 19, 2018

As you may remember from the song of this same name, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. I know they thought of it first and popularized it, but it is very much like your membership in The FENG. The only difference is you can check out, but I hope you won’t. If you take a moment to look around the room at other job search related networking meetings and chat it up with the members of that group, one of our unique features will become a little more obvious. In The FENG members are expected to always be members. Their involvement may change. Sometimes it becomes greater. Sometimes it becomes less. But, the security [ Read more… ]

The illusion of trust

From our daily member newsletter on November 18, 2018

It is always difficult to explain why you trust someone. In our daily encounters out in the world we come across all kinds of folks. Most of the individuals we do business with on a daily basis don’t have to be our friends, and the nature of the exchanges we have with them don’t even require that we trust them. As an example: purchasing gas. As long as we can bring ourselves to trust the gas station attendant not to pour the gas into the back seat of our car, there isn’t really much at risk. And, since we probably put this exchange on our credit card, there is no possibility that the value received isn’t the amount we paid. [ Read more… ]

The wind in your sails-not

From our daily member newsletter on November 15, 2018

A long time ago I read a book by Dodge Morgan. Those non-sailors among us will probably not recognize his name, but in his 50’s, Dodge decided to sail solo around the world on a sloop especially designed for him. (I also bought the video of his voyage and heard him speak about his trip, but we won’t get into that.) The area around the equator is referred to by sailors as the doldrums. Ships making passages around the world could be assured of spending an inordinate amount of time trying to cross this part of the ocean. This is in contrast to the southern ocean where the wind blows almost non-stop all year around because there are no land [ Read more… ]

Weather forecasting

From our daily member newsletter on November 14, 2018

Ever the wise sailor, I always (well, almost always) check the weather forecast before heading down to the boat to go out for the day. This may or may not be a valuable activity. My wife jokes that in her next life she wants to be a weather forecaster. They never have to be right and they still get paid. I have to agree that they are frequently wrong, and sometimes I have taken their prognostications to heart and they have caused me to miss a perfectly good sailing day. (As you may know, the sailing season is very short – it is less than 52 weeks per year, so I hate to miss even one day.) There is also [ Read more… ]

Reinventing yourself

From our daily member newsletter on November 13, 2018

Much as I hate using cliché phrases as the one above, I don’t really know if there is a better one to describe the process of self-examination that is required when faced with looking for another “work opportunity.” (I call them work opportunities instead of jobs, because they don’t generally last long enough these days to be dignified with that “job” label.) Of course, I should preface my comments with the very obvious fact that changing industries or professions in any job market is very difficult. There are plenty of folks who are “local candidates,” or from the “required” industry. Competing against them in any sense isn’t an even contest, but competing rarely is as much fun as folks make [ Read more… ]

The beginning of time itself

From our daily member newsletter on November 12, 2018

I know you will all find this hard to believe, but there was a time when The FENG only had 20 members. In May of 1995, I was invited by Ed Devlin, the then Chairman, to join what was at that time The Fairfield County Financial Executives Networking Group. (Ed had recently taken over from Don Gonsalves who started the group in 1991.) Being a bit of a computer expert, especially compared to Ed, I volunteered to act as social chair and take in resumes, adding them to what we now know as our membership directory. Believe it or not, we actually discussed job leads at meetings as there was no evening newsletter. Some of our founding members such as [ Read more… ]

Picking a restaurant

From our daily member newsletter on November 11, 2018

People who know that my wife and I are into sailing often ask us what we most enjoy making for dinner when we are on the boat. My standard response is reservations. The hard part is, of course, picking the restaurant. Are we in the mood for Mexican food, Pizza, French, Italian, or Chinese? Fortunately for us, although you can’t always tell by the name of the restaurant what they serve, all restaurants have enough common sense to stake out their areas of expertise when being listed in the telephone book, or in the many local brochures available at our favorite harbors. No restaurant would consider keeping their area of expertise a secret. It just wouldn’t be good for business. [ Read more… ]

Watching each other’s back

From our daily member newsletter on November 8, 2018

I don’t know if you have noticed, but all of the job leads from The FECG include a sentence that says “You may forward this to other members of The FENG if you are aware of their background and/or interest in this kind of opportunity.” I wish all the job leads in our newsletter had this sentence. If only our eyes weren’t so bad, and the job leads for our particular areas of expertise so few and far between, I suppose all members could be expected to read the newsletter for themselves and catch all the opportunities that were a fit for them. However, we really do need other members watching out for us. Yes, all of us are responsible [ Read more… ]

Politeness & proper manners

From our daily member newsletter on November 7, 2018

I am not going to suggest to you that the world of The FENG is a perfect place. That said, I hope that someday we will be recognized as one of the organizations that “started it all.” We all know that common courtesy is very rare in today’s world, which makes you wonder why they call it common courtesy. Perhaps they should call it rare courtesy, or come up with another name for it entirely. It is so very easy to give in to the existing pattern of discourtesy and start acting that way ourselves. In the environment of job search, it is rare that the submission of your resume generates an acknowledgement. Hitting reply doesn’t sound like it is [ Read more… ]

Learning the basics

From our daily member newsletter on November 6, 2018

When I first got into sailing as a young man (I was in my 30’s), my father-in-law suggested we take a class – what a concept! Sailing is actually pretty simple. First, you can’t sail directly into the wind (I wonder why?). Next, never spit into the wind. And finally, if you feel yourself getting seasick, get yourself over to the lee rail. (Okay, this one takes a little explaining. The lee rail is on the opposite side of the boat from where the wind is coming from, so it is sort of a corollary of the second rule.) I suppose I should add that if you are just off the wind, the sails are all pulled in tight, hence [ Read more… ]

Any port in a storm

From our daily member newsletter on November 5, 2018

One of our members wrote to me a few years ago seeking some career advice. It seems his firm is restructuring and his job is being eliminated. That said, he has some “work opportunities” that are available to him, (some at his current firm) but all of which are a little off task to his primary skill areas. Not that he can’t do them, it is more a question of how this will affect his career and whether or not he should just take a severance package and look for a “real” job. I don’t think it will come as a shock to any of you if I mention that there is no one right answer to finding a way [ Read more… ]

An advertising over promise

From our daily member newsletter on November 4, 2018

For almost a decade I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency. In addition to learning how to deal with a wild and crazy bunch of folks, I learned a lot not only about the advertising business, but also about advertising in general. One of the facts that I learned was that a good advertising campaign could get customers to try the product. (We were a very creative shop!) In some cases, we were so good at what we did that we almost put some of our clients out of business. Sounds odd, but oh so true. Promising 10 and delivering 5 is about one of the worst things you can do. In the context of job search, I [ Read more… ]

The FENG’s complaint department

From our daily member newsletter on November 1, 2018

I don’t know if all of you know it, but I started my career in retailing at B. Altman & Company, one of the old line “Carriage Trade” retailers in New York City, and an interesting place to be sure. To be successful in this retailing segment you had to treat your customers’ right. All merchandise was returnable, and to the amazement of this Internal Auditor at the time, was accepted for full credit even when sometimes it hadn’t been purchased in the store. It is this “the customer is always right” attitude that I try to apply in The FENG to our many audiences. If there is something we are “doing” to one another or to some group outside [ Read more… ]

Walter Mitty and other matters

From our daily member newsletter on October 31, 2018

Walter Mitty was an interesting guy. Although he did one thing in his real life, he had the opportunity to do lots of exciting things in his imaginary life. As we advance in our careers, I think all of us want the opportunity to do new and different things. It is only normal to want to change industries or change careers. And, many of us actually succeed in doing it. For example, I am doing something very different in my second career. I hope that no one will read this editorial and think I am trying to discourage anyone. Hopes and dreams, however, have to be measured against the economic reality of your value to a potential employer. I don’t [ Read more… ]

I know this will come as a surprise

From our daily member newsletter on October 30, 2018

From time to time I give a presentation to the Westport Chapter about how to use our website, and in particular how to use our not so new Member Directory Search feature. Based on the great interest of those attending, apparently there are quite a few members who haven’t taken the time to explore our rather remarkable website. For those of you who are totally asleep at the switch, our website is located at www.TheFENG.org. It is very difficult to sign in and get your password – NOT. All you have to do is enter your email address for the newsletter in the white box in the upper right hand corner of your screen and your password in the next [ Read more… ]

Abbreviations

From our daily member newsletter on October 29, 2018

I guess the desire to shorten just about everything is part of human nature. I once worked with a guy named Harry and the boss insisted on calling him Har. I suppose he could have called him H, but maybe that was TOO short. When I was in college, everyone was talking about the ATGSB. For those of you who don’t know, this stood for the Aptitude Test for Graduate Study in Business. Like slang expressions, folks use abbreviations to set themselves apart from others. If you don’t know what it means, you are probably not part of the “in crowd,” or at least MY in crowd. With this as an introduction, I’m not sure if I can articulate everything [ Read more… ]

A visualization of the ideal candidate

From our daily member newsletter on October 28, 2018

The classic cruel joke of job search is that the client is looking for someone just like you, but much younger. Of course, no one can use these exact words out of fear of getting sued for age discrimination, which we all know is illegal. Setting illogically low levels of experience and/or declining to consider anyone with “too many” years of experience is how companies and search firms try to skirt around the issue. The choice we have is to react negatively to this approach, or to put our thinking caps on in advance and detect a hidden customer objection. Trust me, a frontal assault to this kind of thinking will never work anyway. We may be old as the [ Read more… ]

The official change of seasons

From our daily member newsletter on October 25, 2018

As the days of fall begin to arrive in the Northeast and the trees begin to change colors, it is all very beautiful. (Today it was outstanding!) However, I know that inevitably the week will come when I will finish decommissioning the boat for the season. (That was this week. I pulled the sails off the boat on Tuesday with help from Bruce Lynn. Today I finished most of my winterizing because a storm is forecast for the weekend.) For those of you who are long standing members of The FENG, you know that in the Bud household, or at least in my mind, the year is divided into only two seasons: summer when I can go sailing, and winter [ Read more… ]

Passive job searching

From our daily member newsletter on October 24, 2018

I once got a note from one of our members listing several websites with job listings. The question was which ones to sign up for given that some of them had fees associated with them. I will now talk out of both sides of my mouth, so pay attention. Here in The FENG evening newsletter, we make every effort to ensure that the recruiters who post with us contact us as soon as they get a position description by making it free for them to have access to our vast audience. From our members’ perspective, I call it my “first bite of the apple” program. One of our Administrative Assistants reviews every newsletter after it is published and writes to [ Read more… ]

The usual pack of lies

From our daily member newsletter on October 23, 2018

I often wonder to myself how politicians can do so much lying and get away with it. Okay, sometimes we boot them out of office for lying, but we only replace them with new folks who also lie. The truth I suppose is subject to each person’s individual judgment. What one person considers to be an out and out lie, another person might consider to be stretching the truth a bit. To the degree that it suits ones purpose, putting a positive or negative spin on someone’s job performance is what makes politics such great fun. Man is a political animal. When I hear members tell me that they want to find a company that is less political, I say [ Read more… ]

The great white elephant sale

From our daily member newsletter on October 22, 2018

One of the core values of The FENG is our willingness to share job leads with each other. For some reason people seem to overvalue job leads. There are lots of things that are wrong with published job leads. For one thing, it is a fair fight. I much prefer networking where there is often no competition. That said, job leads have value, if not in actually getting a job, in making new friends. A job lead is considered a valuable gift. If you would like to hear about job leads that are out in the market, can you honestly tell me that you are sharing all of the leads you hear about? If you aren’t, why not? Keep in [ Read more… ]

The importance of labels

From our daily member newsletter on October 21, 2018

For those of us who read the newspaper from time to time, one can’t help but notice that just about everyone who is mentioned in any story is given a label. The label selected is usually something very simple such as “a 46 year old truck driver from Illinois.” In this case it is someone’s career. We have learned in short order that this is an older working class individual from the Midwest. In other cases the label selected is one that identifies the individual’s relationship with someone else in the story such as “a close advisor to Mr. Smith.” Labels help us focus our thinking. I think most of us would agree that what particular people say and do [ Read more… ]

Putting your own mask on first

From our daily member newsletter on October 18, 2018

For those of you who have had the pleasure of earning frequent flier miles, I can understand that you may no longer be paying strict attention to the very helpful discussion that precedes take off. Personally, I don’t think that anyone who doesn’t know how to work the seat belt should really be let out alone to wander the earth, but that’s just me. (How does that clip and lever work anyway?) And, who can say they appreciate the crew mentioning that you will soon be arriving at your “final” destination. That said you can always acquire insight even from something as mundane as a legally mandatory drill as takes place preflight. I call your attention to the instructions you [ Read more… ]

What do you do exactly? And, who are you?

From our daily member newsletter on October 17, 2018

The process of self-assessment is never easy. It is sort of like taking out your own appendix, but without anesthetic. As senior financial folks, it is often the case that we don’t have to engage ourselves in the game of “What is it we do? And, who are we?” until very late in our careers. Unlike the denizens of other professions, we tend to stay at jobs a long time and until we hit middle age, many of us have never known a day out of work. As many of you may be aware, I was Chief Financial Officer of an advertising agency for almost a decade. While I could take a few moments to wax eloquent about the difficulty [ Read more… ]

Crawling out from under their rocks

From our daily member newsletter on October 16, 2018

Every once in a while I get a note from one of our members about folks who are promising to find him/her a job by waving their magic wand. I can almost see these so called miracle workers crawling out from under the rocks they call home. You would think that exposure to sunlight would kill them, but like cockroaches, nothing seems to permanently destroy them. Personally, I find it reprehensible that there are organizations in the world who try to sell lifejackets to people who are drowning, especially when the lifejackets don’t even work. If you don’t believe me that (almost) all of them are a bunch of thieves, I would invite you to Google the names of their [ Read more… ]

The ingratitude of superiors

From our daily member newsletter on October 15, 2018

As a group I think you will agree that most financial folks tend to be modest. I am not sure, but I think there was a required course on the dangers of bragging back in college, because it is like pulling teeth to get most members to provide an honest assessment of what they did. There were always others at the meetings. It’s as if in our minds our guiding hand and considerable abilities to quantify and analyze the thinking of others, (sometimes publicly, sometimes privately), doesn’t have a direct impact on the results of the company compared to the work of others on the executive team, like those individuals in sales. Is it any wonder that with our sometimes [ Read more… ]

Change – The only constant

From our daily member newsletter on October 14, 2018

I’m not sure why human beings resist change. It is truly the only constant in our world. For almost 6 years I worked for The Thomson Corporation, a company that was really into change. I used to joke that we reorganized every week even when it wasn’t really necessary, just to keep in practice. Is all change healthy? Probably not. But resisting change is somewhat like spitting into the wind. (And as an avid sailor I am well qualified to explain the unhappy results of doing that!) Getting unstuck on the way to your next success requires thinking about your career in new and different ways and that is what tonight’s editorial is all about – envisioning change in terms [ Read more… ]

Geese and golden eggs

From our daily member newsletter on October 11, 2018

Since we have many new members each year AND many members who may be active again from time to time, I thought it might be a good idea if I wrote about our “qualified members only” approach to responding to job leads and why it works for you. First, let’s understand that posted jobs are only a small portion of the total job market. Most estimates place job leads from search firms and corporations at about 15% of all jobs that are filled. The rest of the jobs are filled by networking. Given the state of the economy right now, my sense is that search firms who are still operating and finding assignments are easily overwhelmed by the volume of [ Read more… ]

Handling customer objections

From our daily member newsletter on October 10, 2018

Anyone involved in personal selling will tell you that one of the more difficult tasks faced by any salesperson is handling customer objections. The easiest customer objections to handle are the ones the customer tells you about. Innocent sounding questions like “What colors does it come in?” can be answered by asking “What color would you like?” If the customer wants red and you don’t have it, you at least know the problem you are facing and can develop strategies to solve it. The worst customer objections to handle are the ones they don’t tell you about. You can see you aren’t making a sale, but you don’t know why. It is a big problem. Of course, the product we [ Read more… ]

What’s the big rush?

From our daily member newsletter on October 9, 2018

As I hope all of you know, I have a consulting practice called The Financial Executives Consulting Group, LLC. (As time permits, please visit our website: www.TheFECG.com to see what we do.) Bruce Lynn is my business partner. We both also devote significant amounts of time on a volunteer basis to run The FENG. Many of our assignments come from employed members of The FENG who, unlike much of the rest of the world, are more open to hiring individuals who are well experienced. (As you know, the rest of the world calls these same folks “over qualified.”) Our assignments always have a two day deadline. One of our members wrote in once suggesting that this sounded a little harsh. [ Read more… ]

Creating an inner circle of friends

From our daily member newsletter on October 8, 2018

It is a sad fact of life that no one ever has enough friends. Men in particular (and our membership is 90% men) seem to have a difficult time making friends. The whole “guy thing” sort of works against us, I suppose. Men are supposed to be strong and never need help from anyone. Remember when we didn’t ask for directions at the gas station, even when we were hopelessly lost? It’s a good thing most of us are technically competent and can work those wonderful GPS units. It is great not being dependent on other people, don’t you think? What I would like to suggest to all of you is that you set a numerical goal for yourself. See [ Read more… ]

What I did on my summer vacation

From our daily member newsletter on October 7, 2018

Remember back at the beginning of time when you would return to school in the fall and would have to write something about what you did all summer? Oh how I envied all those kids who did exciting things over the summer. We didn’t have a lot of money and my father was a plumbing contractor, so we really couldn’t go anywhere during the summer. My father worked 7 days a week and I worked with him 6 days a week. Summer was a time to make money. (And, it was up hill BOTH ways to school. Not only that, but the snow was always 6 feet deep!) Although I suppose I could have written about the work I did [ Read more… ]

That was so 15 minutes ago

From our daily member newsletter on October 4, 2018

It is at all times important to remember that Americans live in the present and the future. If you want to sound like an old person all you have to do is spout phrases like “I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon.” Or, “I remember when we did spreadsheets with pencils and calculators.” To be honest, no one cares. While it may be amusing to discuss with other old folks like yours truly, you have to be mindful of the fact that talking about the past isn’t going to get you anywhere with the younger generation, some of whom just might be the kinds of people you want to work for. Living in the present and thinking about [ Read more… ]

Working your contacts

From our daily member newsletter on October 3, 2018

I would be the first one to agree that finding ways to keep in touch with your business contacts during a job search is more art than science. That said the old saw “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. At the end of my two year job search which began in 1991, I had about 1,400 index cards with the names of those I had contacted for one reason or another. I also had these names in a database of some kind as I recall, but nothing as sophisticated as is possible today with contact software management software. The reason I had all of those names on index cards was so I could carry them with me. (Hard [ Read more… ]

Paint me a pretty picture

From our daily member newsletter on October 3, 2018

Personally, I am not a big fan of art museums. Sure, there are particular “objects of art” that I find to be of interest, but I guess I find the walking around part a little tiring. For amusement during these art museum tours I try to overhear what the tour guides are saying. The at length descriptions of what was in the artist’s mind never fail to bring a smile to my face. I often wonder how they know. Is it possible the artist was thinking one thing, but told his supporters something else? Is it possible that he wasn’t thinking anything at all, but just started painting and worked backwards into his logic once it was done? I know [ Read more… ]

Your many product benefits

From our daily member newsletter on October 1, 2018

One of the biggest problems you face as a senior financial executive is that you have too many product benefits. In a very real sense, you are too good to be true. For those of you who have been hearing you are “over qualified,” let me suggest to you that you are. After over 20 years of work experience, how could you not be over qualified in some sense? That said, being “over qualified” is a good thing. You just have to learn how to sell it. Let me first deal with the words “over qualified” and explain why they are used. The purpose of using these words after an interview, whether by phone or in person, is to create [ Read more… ]

All dressed up with no place to go

From our daily member newsletter on September 30, 2018

On the way down to Washington, DC a few years ago to speak at the chapter meeting, I had the distinct opportunity and pleasure to sit with one of our esteemed Co-Chairs of The FENG, Bruce Lynn for several hours. Most people don’t know this about Bruce, but among his many talents is running well thought out surveys of our members. The answers to most of his survey questions weren’t too alarming or surprising. However, one stood out. Almost 75% of our members haven’t been to a chapter meeting in the past 6 months. I could lecture all of you about the hard work our chapter chairs put into finding speakers and finding meeting space, not to mention all the [ Read more… ]

That feeling of incompetence

From our daily member newsletter on September 27, 2018

Have you ever felt you didn’t know anything about computers? I do all the time, and I have been using them since my first Apple IIe. Still, there is just so much to know and so much to learn. And, the rules keep changing. Things that work on one computer don’t work on my next one. (Why Microsoft does this I don’t know, but I wish they would call me and clear their “improvements.”) Anyway, the process of job search is really what I wanted to talk about tonight. Much like that new computer you got, the process itself often times seems like it has a mind of its own. And, it probably does. The truth is that NO ONE [ Read more… ]

Feelings of helplessness

From our daily member newsletter on September 26, 2018

“They” say (I don’t know who they are) that searching for a job is filled with highs and lows. It doesn’t matter who you may have heard it from or how often you heard these words of consolation, if you have been through a long job search, you know the feelings. I suppose we can find ways to live with the highs. But, the lows, that’s another story. I believe you feel helpless when you are job searching because the whole process seems to be out of your control. In some sense we flatter ourselves that before we were looking for a job we somehow had total control over our lives. As “they” say, the best laid plans of mice [ Read more… ]

Lucy, you got some splaining to do

From our daily member newsletter on September 25, 2018

Down sized, right sized, laid off, fired, reduction in force. I think you have to agree that the world has developed a very colorful vocabulary to describe those things that have caused many of our members to be active in their respective job searches. If one of us went in for an interview and was wearing a cast on one arm, I don’t think that we would hesitate much to explain how it happened. Furthermore, I am pretty sure that we would provide an explanation without any prompting. It is just such an obvious thing that it cries out for commentary. And, as long as it didn’t happen in any embarrassing manner, such as sheer clumsiness, I don’t think that [ Read more… ]

Counterintuitive ideas

From our daily member newsletter on September 24, 2018

There are a lot of counterintuitive ideas out in the world. (It is sometimes called “out of the box thinking.”) What may not be fully recognized is that The FENG, our little circle of friends, is based on quite a few radical ideas, and amazingly they all work. The earliest premise of our organization was that sharing job leads was a good idea. Not well accepted at the time, but for most of our members today it is so ingrained in our makeup that when someone claims not to understand why we do it, we have almost forgotten what the explanations are. (How could anyone not understand the wisdom of it all?) Our resume review committee headed up by Jim [ Read more… ]

The care and feeding of those who help

From our daily member newsletter on September 23, 2018

After “I love you,” “thank you” is probably the next thing no one hears enough. The subject, I am going to discuss tonight could also be called common courtesy, or common courtesies. I know that everyone who is active in their search is very busy, but so are those who are sharing their valuable business connections. If you haven’t fully noticed, I never miss an opportunity to thank those who provide editorial material AND I always encourage those members who are in the mood to “pile on” by adding their own thanks and comments for someone taking the time to share a big idea with us. It takes time to write, and your thank you notes encourage them to write [ Read more… ]

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

From our daily member newsletter on September 20, 2018

I can see from the resumes that cross my desk, that more than a few of our members don’t take to heart some of the editorial material presented in this newsletter, or are taking advice from lightweights in matters related to job search. I hope this will stop! (For our loyal readers and followers, please ignore my previous harsh comment. It is all the “other” members I am speaking to tonight.) More and more I am seeing resumes with early work histories left off and/or year ranges left off jobs early in your careers. Friends, I have a fertile imagination. Were you in prison for some period of time so that if you provided the years there would be gaps? [ Read more… ]

Dumber than dirt

From our daily member newsletter on September 19, 2018

There is a lot of poor thinking going on out in the world about how to be considered for jobs that are a step or two back in your career. The thinking seems to be that you have to dumb down your resume. I agree. I just don’t agree that deleting work history from earlier in your career or leaving off dates is the suggested approach. The constant challenge for most members of this august body is that we are over qualified (or should I say well qualified) for most jobs. After 20+ years of work experience, how could you not be? The approach to appearing “dumber than dirt” or “as dumb as a box of rocks” isn’t to make [ Read more… ]

Best supporting actor

From our daily member newsletter on September 18, 2018

I once wrote an editorial I called: Your resume stands alone If I must say so myself, it was one of my better missives. It highlighted the simple fact that unless your resume sings your praises properly, you honestly don’t stand a chance. A resume needs to be complete, as in no missing jobs or obvious skipped time spans, especially at the beginning of your career. The companies you have worked for need to be defined in one simple line or two, and your job titles need to sort of jump off the page. Career progression speaks miles about you, especially early in your career. If the resume is so darn important, you might ask, what is the role of [ Read more… ]

The benefit of the doubt

From our daily member newsletter on September 17, 2018

The FENG is a networking organization. I hope none of you are fooled by the volume of job leads we publish. The actual purpose of our little circle of friends is to be helpful to one another as often as possible in this struggle we all face to earn a living. In my role as Chairman, I am always searching for ways for you to think about the many folks who might contact you from time to time with no further verification of their credentials than that they are part of our extended family. When you are the “giver,” it is hard not to be a little suspicious of those contacting you. After all, they are asking for access to [ Read more… ]

After all we have meant to each other

From our daily member newsletter on September 16, 2018

A few times a week I get a note from one of our members asking me to stop the newsletter. Although sometimes I do get an explanation of sorts, most times I don’t. All I get is the subject: Unsubscribe. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I am a little offended that someone who has been receiving our free newsletter, usually for several years, can’t take the time to dash off a few lines of thanks and an explanation. Have they decided to retire? Are they no longer working in Finance? Inquiring minds want to know. I won’t even get into the notes that ask me to stop because they are starting a new job on Monday. You would think [ Read more… ]

Confusing tools with a cure

From our daily member newsletter on September 13, 2018

I saw an article several years ago that went on at length about the dissatisfaction folks had with outplacement firms. While I’m not a big fan of everything outplacement firms teach, it is vitally important that anyone who wants to work until THEY want to stop learn about this whole job search thing. It’s not that outplacement firms do a bad job, it is more that they don’t exist to find you a job, because they CAN’T. No one can find you a job except you. All that anyone can do for you, if you are a job seeker, is help educate you on the process. In part, I think the reason people over value job leads is that they [ Read more… ]

Digesting the newsletter

From our daily member newsletter on September 12, 2018

I have to admit that reading the newsletter most nights is like drinking water from a fire hose. The newsletter goes out to many audiences. Like the 6 blind men standing around the elephant, each of those audiences has different needs. This being the case, I will try to suggest a few approaches that are universal. First of all, please know that I love trees. However, if you really want to get the most information out of our newsletter, you honestly need to print it. Back in the bad old days when I got a lot of interoffice mail, I used to read it over the garbage pail. It is a simple fact that, at a glance, you can glean [ Read more… ]

Don’t spill the beans

From our daily member newsletter on September 11, 2018

As financial officers, our natural instinct is to provide full and complete disclosure. It is all part and parcel of our basic honesty. When I was in the Advertising business, now so many years ago, I was often in a situation where I had to inform my boss about something important. He was a brilliant guy, but he honestly had a very limited attention span. My task was to ensure he knew enough that I met my responsibilities, but not tell him SO much that his attention trailed off. If you consider that most of our “meetings” took place between phone calls that he “had to take,” or on the way to the elevator, you can appreciate the complexity and [ Read more… ]

Using your imagination

From our daily member newsletter on September 11, 2018

I have often joked that I am known for “in the box thinking.” Thinking outside of the box, whatever that means, isn’t easy. As financial folks we just aren’t built that way. Still, being boring and unimaginative doesn’t have to become a way of life. And, although this may sound counterintuitive, it is possible to develop a methodical method of “thinking outside of the box.” (Have you ever thought about who owns the box, or why THEY aren’t happy with the box? No, this never seems to come up.) The truth is that every member of The FENG is well educated. And, we got that way by “learning how to learn.” That is what a formal education is actually all [ Read more… ]

The intimidation factor

From our daily member newsletter on September 9, 2018

One of the many things I have heard mentioned to me after our various chapter meetings is “I can’t believe the talent in the room. How can I ever expect to get a job if all of these folks are out of work?” I am not sure why I am usually caught off guard by this comment, but I am. Perhaps it is because the person asking it is usually quite obviously talented as well. Let’s face it, if there is any one trait that I would identify with financial folks it is our modesty. I have to admit that being as talented as we are it IS hard to be modest. (They say in Texas, that if it’s true, [ Read more… ]

Always do your best work

From our daily member newsletter on September 6, 2018

I have never quite understood why the emails I get are so sloppy. I fully realize and accept that most people don’t type 90 words a minute like I do. Still, even if you only hunt and peck, it is my honest advice to you that you make an effort to spell words correctly and to check your sentence construction to ensure that EVERY message you are sending will be well received. Do all messages matter, you might ask? I would argue that they do. The truth is that you may send hundreds of messages out each week, but if you stop and think about it, I may only get ONE of those messages. For me, everything I know about [ Read more… ]

Two hours for lunch

From our daily member newsletter on September 5, 2018

One of the little jokes I used to tell back at the office was how hard it was to get anything done, what with an hour coffee break in the morning, two hours for lunch, another hour coffee break in the afternoon, combined with leaving early, there just isn’t much time to get things done. In much the same way, the “good” weeks of the year for networking can be made to disappear. As we begin this first work week after Labor Day, we are now into the golden networking period of Labor Day to Thanksgiving (which like summer), is a very short “season” since it is less than 52 weeks. Of course, much of the “urban legend” you hear [ Read more… ]

The ultimate scam

From our daily member newsletter on September 4, 2018

I was recently reminded of one of my favored approaches to networking that I discovered in the early 90’s. (Sometime in the late-90’s I stopped calling some of the things I was doing “scams” and started calling them “approaches,” which for some reason those in polite society found more acceptable.) Anyway, the problem circles around trying to find reasons to be in touch with the “regular” contacts on your networking list. As you make the rounds during your search, you are frequently in the position of the copywriter for news radio shows who has to keep freshening up the copy just in case you are still tuned in. The “new and improved” resume that you are taking the time to [ Read more… ]

Please, no sad stories

From our daily member newsletter on August 30, 2018

As we all blast out of here for the long Labor Day weekend, let me give you a few suggestions to make your “time off’ most productive. I hope that all of you will be sharing some good times with family and old friends. (All my friends are old, but I digress.) If you are currently unemployed or for whatever reason actively looking for work, keep one thing in mind: Don’t tell any sad stories. In the movie Patton, George C. Scott explained why America was going to win the war. In brief, Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. As we do our best to achieve success in the job market, looking and acting like a [ Read more… ]

No one ever calls

From our daily member newsletter on August 29, 2018

I had an interesting comment from one of our members of long standing several years ago to the effect that no one was calling him. Of course, the ultimate revenge would be to give all of you his phone number and ask you to call our very own “lonesome George,” but that would be mean. While it is certainly mathematically possible that no one in The FENG thought his background was of interest for networking purposes, I am more concerned with the idea that he is waiting around for the phone to ring so he can help others. As we all know, except for the very brave souls who make good use of our “Members in Need of Assistance” section, [ Read more… ]

Sharing of job leads

From our daily member newsletter on August 28, 2018

The newsletters the past few weeks have been a little thin, so I thought I would take this opportunity to remind all of you of our mutual commitment to share job leads, even those in which we are an active participants. Yes, I know it is counter-intuitive to share leads in which you are an active participant, but it is one of our many PROVEN techniques for improving your very own “deal flow.” Inviting competition from your fellow members is one of our core values, only because it works. Even a job lead where you are one of the 20 candidates submitted by a search firm to his/her client, you only have a 1 in 20 shot. I can assure [ Read more… ]

A firm belief in the Tooth Fairy

From our daily member newsletter on August 27, 2018

I hope I will not sound like I am in a bad mood or anything, but I have to tell you that the bulk of the messages I get from members need a lot of work to make them appear as proper business correspondence. I wish I could believe this is only how you write when you are corresponding with your old and best friend Matt, but I fear that this is not the case. Unless you believe in the Tooth Fairy as strongly as I do, or unless you have a guardian angel, a significant number of the folks getting your messages aren’t getting back to you for reasons that are obvious to me and should be to you [ Read more… ]

A silver bullet

From our daily member newsletter on August 26, 2018

Ah, if only there were such a thing when it came to job search. Alas, there isn’t. From time to time I get emails asking about the various “blood suckers,” who claim to provide variations on outplacement. They profess to be able to do either mass mailings, mass emailings or the ability to teach you how to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. (Yes, even at your age. But, I think they catapult you. You don’t actually leap.) Whatever happened to “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t?” Have all of you hard nosed and hard headed finance types softened up a bit on me? Please leave your wallet at home if you decide to [ Read more… ]

Keeping a proper attitude

From our daily member newsletter on August 23, 2018

One of our members wrote me once and asked me about how to keep a proper attitude when your job search stretches into what seems like an eternity. The reason he addressed this question to me is that he noted that I have mentioned on several occasions that beginning in March of 1991 I was unemployed for almost 2 years. (It was only 1 year and 9 months, but who’s counting?) This is not an easy question to answer from many perspectives. Time has dimmed my memory to a certain extent. (And, not only about my job search. Those senior moments happen more frequently lately, but I digress.) When I left my job in 1991 as Chief Financial Officer of [ Read more… ]

Networking is easy

From our daily member newsletter on August 22, 2018

Have you ever had someone call you up to network and actually been able to help them in some way? I have to ask. How did it make you feel? My guess is that you felt pretty good inside. Perhaps you were only able to point out a typo on their resume, or perhaps you were only able to give them a kick in the you know what or a pat on the back. Still, it can’t help but make you feel good to know you helped in some way. Why is it then when the shoe is on the other foot that some members of the world’s best networking group (that’s The FENG), hesitate to call other members, let [ Read more… ]

Making your emails look professional

From our daily member newsletter on August 21, 2018

I don’t know if you will agree, but I’m almost convinced that email is going to stick around for a while as a business tool. This being the case, I would like to make the bold suggestion to all of you who write emails (and hopefully that is everyone in The FENG) that you “get with the program.” When I write emails, I make every attempt to make them look like business correspondence. The simple reason is BECAUSE THEY ARE. If you have fallen into bad habits because you are writing to close friends all the time, understand that (as said in the Godfather movies) this is about business, it’s not personal. If you recall those halcyon days of written [ Read more… ]

10 seconds or less

From our daily member newsletter on August 20, 2018

Based on the resumes I see on a daily basis, I am not sure there is full appreciation for the amount of time any reviewer gives to your carefully crafted opus. The sad truth is that unless the information presented has a clarity greater than the other documents in that stack of 100-500, it can easily be passed over even though you MAY be the most qualified person in the pile. Think long and hard about any of the speed reading that you do starting with the morning newspaper. I sometimes feel sorry for the reporters who have slaved over the stories I skip because I have been unable to find even one word of interest to jump up and [ Read more… ]

Acts of friendship

From our daily member newsletter on August 19, 2018

As you know, each week I publish a list of our new members and I ask each member of our august body to call at least one person from the list. I sometimes spend close to a full day out of my personal schedule to review new member candidates. I only ask that each of you call one person — a rough time commitment of about 15 minutes. If you do it every other week or every third week, I can live with that too. Although the truth is we don’t have quite as many members calling new members as I would hope, it still happens a lot more than I ever thought it would when I first suggested it [ Read more… ]

Questions you would rather not answer

From our daily member newsletter on August 16, 2018

There is nothing worse in the world of job search than to have an obvious issue in your background that is difficult to explain. I have often suggested to members that on some topics we discuss there is no right answer. When there is no good answer to something in your background, what do you do? While I am the official spinmeister of The FENG, there are some problems that people raise with me for which every answer is a loser in some ways. When you are faced with one of these kinds of issues, I would suggest that the best defense is not just to have the best possible answer ready, but also to be the one to bring [ Read more… ]

Don’t call me late for lunch

From our daily member newsletter on August 15, 2018

I don’t know if all of you have noticed, but our new member announcement has a field called “Greeting to use.” It is there because I think it is important in establishing networking connections to be able to call people by the name they find most “comfortable.” As I have often said, you can call me anything you like as long as it isn’t late for lunch. Most people who have names that can be abbreviated in various ways will tell you that they don’t really care if you call them William or Bill or even Will for that matter. That said, when you call them on the phone and they say “Bill here,” you now know their preference. If [ Read more… ]

Taking your temperature too frequently

From our daily member newsletter on August 14, 2018

I don’t know if any of you feel as I do, but when I have a cold or the flu, it is at once annoying and thoughtful that those who care about us are constantly checking up on us. Thank goodness I’m not sick very often, but when I am I prefer to be left alone during “the cure.” Human beings vary, of course. Some of us are hypochondriacs, and some of us are foolish to the point of going out when we are sick. The human experience, as in most things, runs the gamut. So, like I said, if those who care about you “discover” that you are a little under the weather, the constant phone calls or the [ Read more… ]

Do you have allergies?

From our daily member newsletter on August 13, 2018

For those of you with allergies, you know only too well that once you have a reaction to something, for some period of time even small amounts of that substance will set you off. As I understand it, what happens is that an allergic reaction triggers elevated histamine levels in your body. If you stay away from whatever it is you are allergic to, gradually your histamine levels decline and although you are still allergic, it takes more of it to set you off. (Now I know I shouldn’t stray too far from my usual sailing analogies, but I couldn’t think of one that was appropriate to this topic.) We have all heard of the straw that broke the camel’s [ Read more… ]

Yakking on the phone

From our daily member newsletter on August 12, 2018

Most of us CFO/Controller types find talking on the telephone one of the more difficult things we do. I believe one of the reasons is that most of our work is accomplished in written form. When we do present our work to the boss or to our peers, it is usually done face to face and to a very large degree, we set the agenda. In other words, we know the topics and the typical questions that are going to be asked and we are prepared for them. It is for this reason that telephone interviews can be difficult for us. (Actually, they are probably difficult for everyone!) If you think about the communications aspects of a telephone interview there [ Read more… ]

I will work for food

From our daily member newsletter on August 9, 2018

Although the job market appears to be getting better, it is still a sad fact of life these days that most of our members face the prospect of a salary lower than they previously enjoyed. From our perspective as financial folks we struggle with the burden of our hard won escalations in salary over our careers, as if somehow these increases were our birthright. Alas, they aren’t. Unlike those who change jobs more frequently and who, in turn, have a better sense of the market and their value in it, we often do not enjoy such a “sixth sense.” Therefore, when faced with providing our “salary requirements” in responding to a job posting, we are often at a loss as [ Read more… ]

A simple framework

From our daily member newsletter on August 8, 2018

I’m not sure why people go their own way, but the standard resume framework is very much the “gold” standard. If you accept the idea that most resumes only get 10 seconds, I think you can begin to appreciate why straying from the traditional structure can get you into trouble. Of course your contact information needs to be at the top. This includes a home address, telephone numbers where you can be reached and your email address. If you are going to worry about being called at the office, I would only suggest that you should be so lucky. When someone wants to reach you, you want to be reachable. I believe the old saw is that opportunity only knocks [ Read more… ]

Caught by surprise

From our daily member newsletter on August 7, 2018

There is nothing worse in this world than to finally get an interview and to blow the opportunity because someone asked you a question you weren’t prepared to answer. I don’t know why some very obvious questions can take a seasoned financial professional by surprise, but they do. Perhaps we are unprepared because we are not used to others treating us with disrespect. When you control the checkbook, people tend to be nice to you. However, such things as “Why did you leave your last job?,” “How much did you earn in your last job?,” and “Why do you like the color blue?,” are all things that can come up without warning. (Okay, the last one has never come up [ Read more… ]

Law and order

From our daily member newsletter on August 6, 2018

Over the years I have been asked many times how large The FENG could get before “law and order” breaks down. By law and order breaking down I am talking about a point in time when we can no longer count on our members to treat each other with respect. Respect comes in many forms. We all take a leap of faith when we post job opportunities. Are members really going to follow “qualified members only?” Will I be embarrassed when I next speak to the recruiter I have coaxed to post with our network? Just as important, will we reach a point in time when networking phone calls no longer get returned? Or worse yet, when calls offering assistance [ Read more… ]

Who is your customer, what is your product?

From our daily member newsletter on August 5, 2018

If I had to put my finger on the one issue that confuses senior financial professionals it is the subject above. Who is the customer for your services, and what is your product? When I have chatted with or had email exchanges with members who were going through outplacement, the bad advice they have gotten has included only showing their most recent 10-15 years on their resume, to dumbing down their titles, and, of course, leaving off their graduation dates. Please know I am very much opposed to any of these approaches. The assumption with only showing your most recent 10-15 years is that you can somehow fool a resume reviewer into interviewing you. May I suggest that just as [ Read more… ]

Lying is so hard

From our daily member newsletter on August 2, 2018

Despite all the financial scandals that we have seen in the past few years, most of us financial types by our nature have a hard time lying. For the most part, it just isn’t part of our DNA. While we may be burdened with many secrets of the organization such as payroll, we get around the questions of others on these topics with silence or a cold glare. (They should know better than to ask us about such matters.) When it comes to job search, we get asked a lot of questions that we would prefer not to answer. The problem is if you don’t answer you won’t be considered for a golden (or perhaps silver or brass) opportunity. Such [ Read more… ]

Rejected out of hand

From our daily member newsletter on August 1, 2018

If there is one thing that is certain about us financial types, it is that we always know the answer. Ask us a question and it isn’t long before we are well into the “primarily due to’s and partially offset by’s.” Yet, this major strength of ours and important skill set is an impediment to success at job search. Our perception of the world, much like other human beings, is colored by our experiences, and in our world job change typically hasn’t happened as frequently as it has for many other categories of workers. When I was in my mid 40’s, an art director friend of mine told me that he had already worked at 25 different advertising agencies, some [ Read more… ]

Giving up as a concept

From our daily member newsletter on July 31, 2018

One of the more interesting ideas floating around these days is giving up. I can’t say I am an expert on this topic, other than to say that I have heard about it at length from others. Not that they have actually bought into the idea; just that they were talking about it. As you all know, I am a sailing buff. As such I indulge myself in good sailing stories from time to time. Some of the most memorable have been the ones about those who have had to abandon ship. Although the sailors rule is to “always step up into a lifeboat,” there often comes a time when you have to grab your “abandon ship bag” and do [ Read more… ]

Good news announcements

From our daily member newsletter on July 30, 2018

I’m not sure if everyone understands the importance of our Good News Announcements, so I thought I would share with you tonight some of my thoughts as to why they are so important. Since the very beginning of our newsletter, the Good News Announcements have always appeared at the very beginning. We were a small group of individuals back in 1997, perhaps a 100 or so hardy souls, and we DID actually know each other. So, the good news announcements were particularly exciting. As the group has grown, it is less and less likely that you will actually know the person making the announcement. And, although it may appear to be “always about you,” good news announcements are really about [ Read more… ]

A rhinoceros and a piece of paper

From our daily member newsletter on July 29, 2018

Many years ago, my son and I were rowing out to our mooring to go sailing with my father-in-law. My son, who was probably 8 or 9 at the time, asked my father-in-law if he knew the EXACT difference between a rhinoceros and a piece of paper. After several totally wrong guesses, my son gave him the answer: You can’t make a spitball out of a rhinoceros. Fortunately, my father-in-law was wearing a life jacket because he almost fell into the water, he was laughing so hard. The EXACT difference I would like to address tonight will probably not cause you to laugh quite as hard, but it appears to be a distinction that is lost on most people, so [ Read more… ]

Any excuse will suffice

From our daily member newsletter on July 26, 2018

I am sure you have heard it too, the at length explanations others give as to why they are looking for another job. Sometimes I forget to mention at the beginning of our meeting in Connecticut that I really don’t need to know and you don’t really need to tell anyone. No explanation is actually required even when you go on a job interview. What you need to do is separate yourself from the situation a little bit and develop a short factual explanation that will address the issue. The reason it has to be short is that the more you talk about it, the more important it must be to who you are and whether I should hire or [ Read more… ]

The art of friendship

From our daily member newsletter on July 25, 2018

Perhaps because we fill in so many forms during the course of our careers, it seems that as financial types we are always looking for a fill in the blank approach to just about everything. Is there a formula for 90-second announcements, I am frequently asked? Well, there are some basic guidelines, but beyond that, the time frame is so short that only you can actually decide what should fill that time. (Perhaps with a little help from your friends?) I doubt that it has escaped your notice, but many of the individuals you call “friend” in your life have something in common with you. I suppose we all have a few old friends from college, and that is the [ Read more… ]

The truth (as retold)

From our daily member newsletter on July 24, 2018

I know that many of our members are faced with the unpleasant truth that they have been out of work for a significant period of time. Having been out of work myself for almost two years, I know that this unpleasant question of “Why have you been out so long?” gets asked. Like anything else in life, if you don’t prepare a “proper” answer, you will begin to stammer. (Or, sweat!) The natural tendency of financial folks that you need to avoid is the very detailed answer. The good old “primarily due to, partially offset by” approach that we take to providing information is not only a bad idea, it is also unnecessary. As the defense attorney on TV would [ Read more… ]

Life is a journey

From our daily member newsletter on July 23, 2018

I have often noted to my friends who aren’t into boating that the difference between a power boater and a sail boater is that power boaters usually use their boats to go somewhere, whereas sail boaters are already there once they step onto their boat. In our goal driven, management by objectives, over achiever world, the difference in philosophy between someone who has an obsessive desire to reach a goal versus someone who lives for the journey is considerable. The truth is, of course, one can do both as long as you think about both. To me the purpose of sailing is to enjoy good times and adventures with my spouse, members of our family and our many friends. Whether [ Read more… ]

Don’t go it alone

From our daily member newsletter on July 22, 2018

Job search is in many ways a unique experience. In contrast to the world of work where we have had folks reporting to us and have had folks that we reported to, the world of job search can tend to be a lonely place. Outplacement facilities with their rabbit warren of cubicles at first glance seem to place you with a lot of other people. There are classes to attend, and at least in my own experience with this kind of environment, you have others with whom you can have lunch and share experiences. Not a totally bad situation. But still, everyone is on a different track and when they find work or their time ends, they typically disappear. And, [ Read more… ]

Wooden ships and iron men

From our daily member newsletter on July 19, 2018

Ah, the great age of sail! For many hundreds of years, men built great numbers of wooden sailing vessels for commercial purposes and for the making of war. The truth, as hinted at by the saying above is that there was very little that was actually romantic or desirable about a life at sea. Much of the poetry and writing about life on these vessels was written safely on land. The building of a large sailing vessel was quite a project in days before computer aided design and no power tools. That said the processes involved in ship construction were well known and changed very little over this period of time. A shipwright from any country or from any of [ Read more… ]

Fog sandwiches

From our daily member newsletter on July 18, 2018

Although by and large, the one thing we make more often than anything else for dinner on our boat is reservations, there are times when the fog giant descends upon us and if there is nothing else to eat, we make fog sandwiches. To make fog sandwiches, of course, you need fog. To this one should add bread, mayonnaise (if you are making a fog sandwich with chicken or turkey), and mustard or ketchup (if you are using roast beef). The type of bread is your choice. I prefer fog sandwiches made on whole wheat, but that’s just me. The problem with fog sandwiches is that the fog portion provides no recognizable flavor or for that matter substance. (Unlike smoke [ Read more… ]

Curb your enthusiasm-NOT

From our daily member newsletter on July 17, 2018

There is a memorable scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in which Paul Newman is challenged for control of the Hole in the Wall Gang. They agree that the best way to settle their disagreement is with a knife fight. Paul suggests that before they get started that they should decide what the rules ought to be. His challenger counters with “What are you talking about? There are no rules in a knife fight!” Let’s face it, as financial professionals we tend to believe in rules. (Do you think that perhaps Butch Cassidy was also an accountant?) Frankly it makes us a little uncomfortable participating in an activity of any kind in which there are no rules. Unfortunately, [ Read more… ]

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