EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Let’s start with the fact that she weighs about 22,000+ lbs., and instead of being on dry land with wheels in firm contact with asphalt, it is more like driving a car on glare ice, only harder.

I have been heard to say that there are only two difficult times when you are sailing – leaving the dock and returning to the dock, with returning to the dock being the harder of the two. When you are out in the middle of Long Island Sound there are certainly times when the boat is hard to handle. Still, the prospect of “crunching a little fiberglass” – yours or someone else’s – like hanging in the morning, tends to focus the mind.

Pick a day when the wind is really strong, 20 knots or better, and go down to your local marina at end of day and watch the boats come in. It is always high entertainment.

The wise captain has a plan coming in. Sure, nature can play a few tricks on you from time to time, but thinking things through before you come in is essential. An unexpected gust or even a lull, can require a sudden change in tactics at the very last second, but it is all part of the plan. What makes it particularly challenging is that there are so many hidden or at least not so obvious factors to take into account. The wind is the most important one. One is always thinking, what is going to happen when I turn? Will the wind blow me into the dock, off the dock, or cause me to pick up speed? Slowing down to “bare steerage” is always a good idea. Less speed equals more time.

A perfect landing is always to be applauded. For the true “masters of the universe” it often appears that it was easy. But then, that is always the case when you have a lot of experience doing anything. It takes great effort and lots of practice to make it look easy. And in a way, if you have done it hundreds of times, it is easy. Well, not really. Mother nature has always got one more trick up her sleeve.

It is much the same with job search. As financial people, we tend not to do it often. One of the most under appreciated aspects of your search is what you are going to do when you “land.” Yes, it does sound like you will now be safe, but don’t count on it. You have found the harbor and been assigned a slip, but the most dangerous part of the whole process has now happened – bringing yourself into a new situation as an accepted part of a management team, no matter how dysfunctional, that has significant relationships with each other, but not with you.

Have you been so busy selling yourself to the new company that you haven’t been keeping your eyes and ears open? Why exactly do you think they have hired a “been there and done that” senior financial executive like you for what they have presented as an easy job? The truth is likely to be that they are in very deep tapioca and you have been hired to clean it up and make things you aren’t even really responsible for work properly.

While I know you will be up to the challenge if you don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security, it is all too easy to let those words “I’ve landed” let you think you can now sit back and enjoy yourself. The hard work has just begun. And, the fun part.

I am not suggesting that you turn down this job of your dreams. The thought I would ask you to keep in the front of your mind is what the challenges are going to be. Ask everyone you have the opportunity to interview with what their expectations are for your first 90 days. Take notes and give every appearance of being a good listener. This is their chance to “give you a piece of their mind.”

Winning the prize by getting that job offer is only the first part of bringing your boat safely into the dock. Make sure when you do get into that slip and have all your lines tied that you are in the right slip and secure until you next have to cast off.

Regards, Matt

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