EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is getting our members to ask for and accept help when they need it.

I suppose it is a guy thing and roughly 90% of our members are guys. As everyone knows, guys don’t ask for directions at the gas station. (Have you ever wondered why? Thank goodness for GPS! We don’t have to do that anymore.)

Well, I have explored this issue from all sides and the conclusion that I have come to is that the reason most folks shy away from asking for and accepting help is a fear of being unable to pay back the debt they have incurred to the person who provided the assistance.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that we have solved this issue in The FENG. While we don’t charge dues, the fact is that membership in The FENG really isn’t free. The truth is that if you benefit from membership in our august body, you are incurring an obligation you need to pay back in the future. (One of those pay it forward things.)

However, it is not as you might fear to one specific individual, but rather to all of those who come after you. The beauty of it all is that you have the rest of your career (and perhaps into retirement) to pay back any and all courtesies you may receive during your job search. (And, unfortunately, there may be more than one in your future.)

When I was in the advertising business many years ago, we never actually had the Red Cross as a client, but I came up with a tag line for them anyway. “Give blood, it’s not like we’re asking for money.”

This in principle is what is expected of every member. Not only is giving of yourself a lot cheaper (an appeal to your inner accountant), it is actually a lot more fun.

Yes, you are pretty much expected to do most of the hard work of finding another job yourself. Still, there is a lot of help ready, willing and able to lend a hand, and not just from the visible leaders of our organization. Each of you is empowered to do many things as well.

Each member of The FENG is available, of course, in their own good time, to offer to other members some portion of the gifts of friendship, support and advise that they have received over the time they have been members.

We are first and foremost a circle of friends. And when it comes to friends there is no favor too small or too large that you cannot ask. That does not mean your request will always be granted. Some favors are just not possible at certain points in time for the members you have contacted.

Just as I hope they will be patient with you, I hope you will be patient with them and understand.

That said, I hope you will summon up the courage to ask for some modicum of assistance as you need it, even though you don’t really need it. A paradox I suppose, but it will help the rest of us feel good to be able to help, and that good feeling is what builds the folklore and culture of this unusual and remarkable organization.

To give another person “the shirt off your back” is, of course, just a figure of speech. Still, we live in a world where you don’t even have to meet face to face to provide support. We have phones and email (that remarkable invention that makes all this possible). And if there is one thing that is inexpensive yet of great value, it is the gift of friendship.

Just as The FENG is designed to make your job search easier, the building of this organization through a process of friends inviting friends inviting friends makes it okay to ask. Each person you call, each person you meet is a friend of a friend.

Putting yourself in the debt of others isn’t painful or something to be avoided. After all, you will have many years of membership to pay back each and every favor many times over.

And, you will get great pleasure doing it.

Regards, Matt

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