EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One thing there is a lot of in this world is advice. What makes matters worse, a lot of it is conflicting advice.

Just as it is difficult to work when you have your nose to the grindstone AND your shoulder to the wheel all at the same time, one person’s advice can often be in TOTAL conflict with another person’s. And, both of these individuals may be trusted advisors.

One thing that I say at a lot at our meeting here in Connecticut is to put any advice you get through your own filters. To be quite honest, I often don’t know what’s best for me. How could I know what’s best for you?

In the course of our lives, and especially when we are in crisis, we seek out those learned individuals with experiences beyond our own. I don’t know if this story is actually true, but Judge Roy Bean of wild west fame was made a judge because he had been in prison and the townsfolk thought that therefore he knew more about the law than they did. Sort of a one eyed man in the land of the blind thing. An expert is often someone who only knows a little bit more than you do.

Stress can make us act stupid and what could be more stressful than trying to earn a living? Advice that we would never follow under normal circumstances, when spoken by someone we believe to be knowledgeable on some topic, can easily cause us to not use our common sense.

Much of the advice I give is a goal or objective that is may be hard to achieve. I know that fitting 30 or more years of experience on a resume isn’t easy. Like a photographer today who can take hundreds of pictures at no cost as long as he doesn’t print them, we are similarly blessed with a wealth of experiences and it is often hard to pick and choose which ones to cut and which ones to leave in.

As Dilbert might say, if you remove everything from your resume that someone might object to, you may very well be left with only the commas and periods.

Within very broad guidelines, take all the advice you get and consider it in the context of your own career goals. If you think there is even a grain of truth in something you hear, see if you can make sense of it and harness this intelligence to your own advantage. Use the ever popular smell test to see if you really agree.

If it job seeking advice, try to remember when you were sitting on the other side of the desk trying to hire people. As an example, there is the ever popular advice to leave off your early career to make yourself look younger. This is the kind of advice I find most reprehensible. If you sneak past a gatekeeper and get in front of a hiring manager, how will that person feel when they realize they have been duped? Is that honestly a “warm fuzzy” with respect to your candidacy, or is it more likely they will never trust you again? Not a good position for a Chief Financial officer in my opinion. You win the battle but lose the war.

One thing I hope everyone accepts is that there are NO absolute truths. The world exists in shades of gray. I will always leave it to each of you as very smart senior executives to decide what colors to use when painting your very own picture of your life.

Regards, Matt

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