EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

It is at all times important to remember that Americans live in the present and the future.

If you want to sound like an old person all you have to do is spout phrases like “I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon.” Or, “I remember when we did spreadsheets with pencils and calculators.”

To be honest, no one cares. While it may be amusing to discuss with other old folks like yours truly, you have to be mindful of the fact that talking about the past isn’t going to get you anywhere with the younger generation, some of whom just might be the kinds of people you want to work for.

Living in the present and thinking about the future are the keys to your career success. As you get chatted up by your next interviewer who is asking the usual HR kinds of questions, keep your focus on your very recent accomplishments.

To discuss a systems implementation you did in 1971 as I did at B. Altman & Company when we switched over from keeping their inventory purchase journal on NCR paper (if anyone remembers what that was) when computers were a new “craze” (Who knew it would last?), isn’t going to get you what you want. While it may have been an achievement in its time, that time was so long ago as to not be relevant. That said, the paperwork trail in retailing was so complicated, that any other problem I have had to solve since has been minor by comparison. Still, no one will believe you.

When asked for things you have done in your career about which you are most proud, make them things you have done recently. While in the greater scheme of things they may not have been as important as work you have done early in your career or in your mid-term career, they have the advantage of being new and more likely relevant to your listener. I don’t need to tell you what happens to yesterday’s newspapers. (Okay, I will tell you. They go out with the trash.)

You may have to “put a little lipstick on that pig,” but an ERP or SAP implementation in which you played a small role yesterday is more important than one you led 10 years ago.

Call it the time value of labor (a new phrase) or whatever you want to call it, we live in today and work into the future when competing for “work opportunities.” (That’s my name for a job.)

Anything you did 20 years ago is REALLY so 15 minutes ago. (In Internet time more like 200 years ago.)

Regards, Matt

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