EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

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, in the struggle in which we all exist to earn a living I think you will agree that although there are a few rules, they are not well known, nor are they well enforced.

Part of the problem here is that that the greatest majority of us are extremely honest. To deceive in any manner just tends to rub us the wrong way. We don’t approve when others do it, and we certainly would not intentionally engage in it ourselves.

What ends up happening is that to a degree we allow our basic honesty to get in the way of finding a new job.

When you are first approached about a job opportunity it is just all too easy to sound cool about it. Hey, we really aren’t enthusiastic individuals to start with. Sometimes it’s even hard for those who know us well to know when we are excited about something. In a sense we put on our “I’m skeptical” hat that we wore back at the office when approached about budget blowing spending proposals.

Yet, you need to keep in mind that this is not how the game is played. The person on the other end of the phone or across the table is trying to determine your interest in a new opportunity and you ABSOLUTELY MUST come across as interested and excited.

You will not get the full information about the opportunity unless you express this interest. The reason is that if the “pitch” about the job doesn’t seem to be going well, the person on the other end of this conversation will stop selling and move on to the next call. If you want to keep your options open you need to do a little pretending.

Practice with me here. I will be traveling to Florida and Texas in the summer and Minnesota in the winter? Sounds like a great job to me! (That’s the enthusiasm I like to hear.)

You want to hear the whole story before you rush to judgment. Sure, you may have heard it all before, but you will never know for sure unless you encourage the presenter to keep talking by providing positive stimulus. If this sounds like an experiment in psychology, it is.

Let’s also assume that at some point you are in the fortunate position of having several opportunities pending at once. Friends, there is NOTHING dishonest about sounding enthusiastic to exactly the same degree about all of them. In your heart of hearts you may favor one over the others, but NEVER let those you are talking to know it.

At the end of the day, the one you want most may disappear. How would you like your new employer to know that he was your second choice? The job you thought was the least desirable might end up being the one offered to you. (And, it might end up being the best job you ever had!) The truth is you never know in life.

The other truth is that although you may feel that with regard to the jobs in which you have the least interest that you are stringing them along, trust me, the one you want the most may be stringing you along. Again, you just never know.

So, make up a list of enthusiastic words and phrases and practice them.

All together now: Fantastic! Sounds good to me! WOW, and I get to work 80 hours a week!

(Now you’re in the spirit of it.)

Regards, Matt

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