EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

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 about. Sure, there are specific pieces of knowledge that we acquire, (things like debits are by the window and credits are by the door) but learning how to set up problems for solution is part of what we have acquired.

When it comes to studying your own career, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking about your areas of expertise too narrowly. (I’m a bond trader. I do structured finance.) It may actually be possible that some of the electrons in that “thick skull” of yours actually know how to do more than you think they do.

The way you think about your career needs to be constantly viewed and re-viewed through different lenses. If you were a buggy whip manufacturer, you have also worked in leather goods and/or provided accessories to the traveling public. To stick with viewing yourself as a buggy whip manufacturer is to doom yourself to failure and unemployment.

While your role in your earlier organizations was most likely financial (otherwise you wouldn’t have been accepted as a member of The FENG), your future may be different. In my own case, I spent most of my career in organizations that did a lot of personal selling. I lived with the sales team. I drilled into their brains to figure out how they thought about the world and what motivated them. I had them share with me their sales strategies. All of this acquired knowledge puts me in good stead in developing business for The FECG, the consulting practice I have built with Bruce Lynn. (Our website is www.TheFECG.com if you want to take a peak.)

My advertising background hasn’t hurt either. Getting into the minds of creative folks can be a frightening experience, but in the process of managing one of the top 50 advertising agencies in the 1980’s, I somehow also learned a lot about marketing. (Yes, I know I should have just stayed in my office and created spreadsheets, but I liked learning about the business.)

What have you ACTUALLY been doing over the course of your career? Is it possible you have also learned more than you let on? (Listen, I know how modest you are, but you need to put that aside and BRAG a little bit.)

Are there business opportunities out there in the world where you can practice one of what you think are your SECONDARY skill sets? (By the way, the world is a big place.)

Every once in a while during your job search, take a day and let your imagination run wild. You may find out that you are a different person than you thought you were. Or, you may find out you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Either way you win.

Knowing you are heading off in the right direction may help you get out of your box sooner than you ever imagined was possible.

Regards, Matt

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