EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Acquiring knowledge

One of the things you learn pretty quickly in sailing is that “Mighty Mouse” is not going to come to your rescue if you get into trouble. Sure, there is a “AAA” type of service for boats, but the risks out on the water and the timelines for help getting to you are always significant.

In the early days of our sailing as a family, we certainly had our share of misadventures. And, although we do more and go further than we used to, the tall tales I tell tend to have happier endings. Over the 35+ years I have been sailing, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge and I am at all times delighted to share what I know. But, you have to ask.

I have learned over the years that other captains tend not to appreciate unsolicited advice. It is one of those many “guy” things like not asking for directions at the gas station. (Thank goodness for GPS in today’s cars!)

While many would argue that you are a better person if you learn from your own mistakes, I would suggest that everything is relative. What are the risks and what are the results of failure?

I hope all of you appreciate the counterintuitive nature of many of the things we do in The FENG. While no one can expect others to do their job search for them, you should avail yourself of the primary member benefit of the good offices of each and every other member.

The door to all of our “electronic” offices should be open at all times to member’s inquiries about matters in which we have some expertise. This sharing of knowledge is what makes our organization unique and so well respected and admired in the outside world.

I’m sure you have heard: “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.” I know there is this fear that others will laugh in your electronic face if you contact them inappropriately. It’s true. They will. But, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, hopefully they will find some polite way to suggest that your question was perhaps too broad or directed to the wrong person.

Ask me some questions about powerboats and my face will go blank. Unfortunately, I don’t own a powerboat and I don’t know too many power boaters. You see, they generally go past me too fast and not mindful of their wakes, so it is hard to be polite. (They in turn argue that we are always going too slowly and are in their way. I guess attitudes depend on your perspective.)

On the other hand, if you ask me a question about sailboats or sailing in general, it will be hard to get me to shut up. (Those who have called and gotten me started on this subject which is near and dear to my heart have only themselves to blame for the amount of time I have kept them on the phone.)

The same is true of questions asked to your fellow members. Take the time to review their directory listings for firms at which they have worked, chapters where they are members and, of course, those ever important special interest groups they have listed.

You can get almost any question answered worth asking and never leave the warmth of our circle of friends.

It is far better to keep it in the family than to expose yourself to the ridicule of “outsiders.” As I have been heard to say from time to time, having 50,000+ friends is a good start to any day.

Regards, Matt

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