EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The name of Rodney Eaton may or may not be familiar to you. Or, you may be saying to yourself that you recall seeing that name, but you don’t know where.

Rodney has been a member of The FENG since 2013. And, during that time he has sponsored 184 new members. The reason you know the name is that lately, every “Welcome to New Members,” has his name appearing several times.

I recently asked Rodney for “the secret to his success.” I have compiled his response from several notes he has sent me. (I only did a little editing.)

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Dear Matt,

As you can guess, I took your message to heart about signing up new members. In 2019, I sponsored 61 new members; but just six months into 2020, I am at 110 (averaging over 18 a month; or nearly 37 FENG pins at 1 pin for every 3 members 😉) based on those appearing in the weekly new members email.

It amazes me, and maybe you too, with 37,000 fellow members, most of them cannot sponsor at least ONE member; it would nearly double the size of the FENG. Shame on them. 😊

The new members I sponsor always let me know how “blown away” they were by the welcome as well as the fact that I am staying in touch. Then, occasionally, they confess they were kind of looking to simply add another group to their resume or LinkedIn profile. But, with the quantity of welcomes they get, they feel very grateful and blessed to be a part of FENG. That comes from the top down through the members. As an example, below is a message I received after I sponsored Habibe and he was granted membership to The FENG.

JAN 20, 2020
Rodney Eaton 4:00 PM
Habibe, I just received the FENG new member list and welcome to the group. It is great to have you as a member. Thanks. Best regards, Rodney Eaton

JAN 21, 2020
Habibe (Bibi) Rubio, MST sent the following message at 11:49 AM
Good afternoon Rodney just wanted to take a moment and sincerely thank you for introducing me to The FENG! I certainly look forward to a fulfilling networking relationship. In fact I was a bit surprised on the many welcoming notes sent by the membership and admit that this is the first time I experience such camaraderie from an organization. When in New York please reach out we can meet up for some coffee! Sincerely, Bibi

Rodney Eaton sent the following message at 12:42 PM Thanks

I always get a kick out of this as you do not get this from any other group that I am aware of.

My big secret for meeting people is NETWORKING!!! Gee, I will bet you didn’t see that one coming. I like to meet and get to know people. The more people I know/connect with, the more valuable I am to my clients as now I have access to people with knowledge that I can draw from. Too, I am also on the lookout for potential acquisitions. Don’t get me wrong, I meet people for the fun and enjoyment of speaking with people ad hoc. If I can put a smile on someone’s face, it’s a great reward and they will remember you for a long time.

I am typically the first to, literally, put my hand out to get to know someone. I am not afraid to speak to a stranger in line at Starbucks, the airport, grocery store, lobby of an office building, reception area, etc. (You get the picture.) I make it hard not to speak to me as I always have a smile and/or made a polite or funny comment. The worst that could happen is they just give me a weird look. Life goes on and 5 seconds later it’s all forgotten and I move on the next victim; I mean person. This approach has increased my client base as well. It has also had very interesting results to the point of being offered several jobs on the spot (thanks but I prefer to be my own boss; at least that’s the reason I give).

In Utah, there is a huge body of water called Lake Powell (site of the first Transformers movie) and I was at one of the marinas when I started a conversation with a gentleman that handled the houseboat rentals. We chatted about 15 minutes then I left. 6 years later I took a Caribbean cruise. We docked at Grand Cayman and my wife and I decided to rent jet skis (they had just been out about 2 years and very difficult to ride). Well the guy renting them took a look at me and said, ‘Hey, I know you from Lake Powell.’ My wife turned to me and said I can’t take you anywhere without someone knowing you. This happens to me all the time. Well, there’s that Networking thing again. Oh by the way, we rented the jet skis for nothing and received a free lunch of turtle burgers.

I have met a lot of interesting and, not bragging, very important people. With everyone I meet, and are FENG membership eligible, I try to get them to join The FENG. Two things I discovered about those that decline my invitation; (1) they are too busy and have no desire to join a “club”, and (2) they have never heard of The FENG. Given the latter, I get a follow on comment, to the effect that, “if it’s so great why haven’t I heard about them?” I do hear this a lot from senior level people; especially those employed at larger corporations. Even when I tell the accounting firms about The FENG, a lot of them say “Who?” Yes, I do defend my invitation and The FENG, but as you know us senior types are kind of stuck in our ways. For every new member I sponsor, there are 20 to 35 that elect not to join. I get a little disappointed as they are missing out on a great opportunity.

I view this as a need for the membership to “Get The Word Out” about The FENG. By you/The FENG partnering up with sponsors, I believe the word is getting out, but the Group needs greater visibility to the general public. Hmmm, if only we knew someone that worked in Advertising. It has been great that you have opened the doors and offered membership via FEI and the CFO Leadership Council. As I was once a member of both organizations, they do NOT hold a candle to The FENG. Both are good in their own way and serve a purpose, but they are NOT at the level of FENG. Just the experience requirement sets them apart. Too, The FENG is more open to senior level execs that are not necessarily CFOs which brings spice to the dinner table. The FENG has CFOs, CEOs, Presidents, VPs of various responsibilities, bankers, consultants, etc. The knowledge base in FENG matches or exceeds most found in Fortune 500 companies, not to mention FEI and the CFO LC. Not putting anyone down, it’s just when you have 37,000 members, well, do I need to say more? (Want to join 😊?)

If you will indulge me a little longer, with every new member I send a personal welcome note with a statement about offering assistance. I do it via LinkedIn as it makes it easier for new members to either request a phone call or ignore me; plus it’s easier for me to track and follow up. Can you guess how many take me up on my offer? No, but you are close, it’s almost 34% excluding the members I sponsor. The take away, yes I am a great guy (😊) but people are joining The FENG as they are looking for something and feel there is real value in belonging; and they are absolutely correct. You just need to NETWORK. Wow, this is starting to sound just like one of Matt Bud’s commentaries. Great guy.

Thanks and again I am sorry about the length. The secret – – – if you are looking for game, you have to go to them; not wait or hope they come to you. Be proactive. One of my goals is that when you send out the weekly new member list, all of the new members are sponsored by me. May not be realistic but it’s a goal. People have often told me it can’t be done and I just smile at them as I know one day it will happen.

Have a great weekend.

Best regards,

Rodney Eaton
CFO Consultant
206-484-1299
eaton.r@comcast.net

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So, there you have it. Since mid-March, roughly 39 million people have filed for unemployment. About 25% of Americans are now out of work. (This comes straight from a Google search.)

Surely, some of these folks are CFOs, Controllers or Treasurers, or one of the other acceptable titles for membership in The FENG. I do hope Rodney’s “pearls of wisdom” will inspire you to also begin sponsoring those you know and/or those who just happen to cross your path.

Extending the hand of friendship to someone who has lost their job, or is concerned they will, is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Take if from one who knows.

Regards, Matt

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