EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Wooden ships and iron men

From our daily member newsletter on July 19, 2018

Ah, the great age of sail! For many hundreds of years, men built great numbers of wooden sailing vessels for commercial purposes and for the making of war. The truth, as hinted at by the saying above is that there was very little that was actually romantic or desirable about a life at sea. Much of the poetry and writing about life on these vessels was written safely on land. The building of a large sailing vessel was quite a project in days before computer aided design and no power tools. That said the processes involved in ship construction were well known and changed very little over this period of time. A shipwright from any country or from any of [ Read more… ]

Fog sandwiches

From our daily member newsletter on July 18, 2018

Although by and large, the one thing we make more often than anything else for dinner on our boat is reservations, there are times when the fog giant descends upon us and if there is nothing else to eat, we make fog sandwiches. To make fog sandwiches, of course, you need fog. To this one should add bread, mayonnaise (if you are making a fog sandwich with chicken or turkey), and mustard or ketchup (if you are using roast beef). The type of bread is your choice. I prefer fog sandwiches made on whole wheat, but that’s just me. The problem with fog sandwiches is that the fog portion provides no recognizable flavor or for that matter substance. (Unlike smoke [ Read more… ]

Curb your enthusiasm-NOT

From our daily member newsletter on July 17, 2018

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, [ Read more… ]

What is your theme song?

From our daily member newsletter on July 16, 2018

Over the years, I have found that I keep certain CD’s in my car and I play them over and over again. I supposed I shouldn’t admit this to a wide audience, but one of my favorite music categories is sea shanties. (It goes along with my hobby of sailing). When I had cassette tapes, I actually wore out 2 or 3 copies of some of them because I played them so much. Thank goodness CD’s don’t wear out. That which rings true about our lives is in a career sense our theme song. As I look back over my career, one of the themes is my concern for others in the organization wasting their time on things I could [ Read more… ]

Meeting the RIGHT folks

From our daily member newsletter on July 15, 2018

Being successful at getting meetings with potential decision makers who don’t have a job right now, but who might make one for you after they meet you, is why networking is the most successful approach to finding a job. Frankly, this is how most business is really done at our level. If you have only gotten interviews through ads or recruiters you are probably wondering how do those lucky dudes do it? How do they manage to get in front of the right people and sweet talk them into offering them a job? Keep in mind that you are not a pea in a pod. You are a unique accumulation of talents acquired over a number of years. If you [ Read more… ]

When the going gets tough, the tough get silly

From our daily member newsletter on July 12, 2018

Tomorrow I will begin processing a rather large batch of new members. It is actually a two week batch as I was on vacation the past two weeks. I realize that new members are not totally indicative of how everyone is doing their resume, but I have to tell you that their resumes aren’t all that different from the ones attached to applications I see for positions posted by The FECG, my consulting practice. (Please visit our website: www.TheFECG.com for information about what we do.) The statement has been made that most resume reviewers are really only interested in your most recent 10 years. This is true. That is NOT to mean that you should leave off your early work [ Read more… ]

Do all new jobs disappoint?

From our daily member newsletter on July 11, 2018

One of the comments I have heard from time to time is that the new job that someone just found isn’t as exciting as the one they lost. It seems at times that most of our members find themselves in a downward spiral as they change jobs. The companies are smaller and often the pay packages are as well. While I have no empirical evidence that all of this is true, it probably is. There are a variety of reasons why new jobs tend to disappoint. The most important reason is within us. As an old job is coming to an end, we know all about it. If it was with a large corporation in particular, the shades of meaning [ Read more… ]

Hard on the wind

From our daily member newsletter on July 10, 2018

Since not all of the members of The FENG are sailors, I really need to start this editorial with the idea that you can’t sail directly into the eye of the wind. In fact, you generally have to be about 45 degrees off the wind to make any headway. However, this is only a real nuisance at those times when the wind is blowing from where you want to go. Sailing as close as you can to the eye of the wind is called being “hard on the wind.” As exhilarating as sailing hard on the wind may be to us die-hard sailors, it has an entirely different effect on those who are only putting up with your hobby. You [ Read more… ]

All I know about you is in front of me

From our daily member newsletter on July 9, 2018

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” With respect to our power to communicate, we live in a remarkable period of time. I normally respond to 50-100 unique emails every day. I have been doing this for many years and yet I still marvel over it. Before email, this would simply not have been possible. What is most disconcerting about many of the email messages I receive is that the person communicating with me believes they are sending me what I should consider to be a complete and actionable piece of correspondence. This is rarely the case. I know I beat this dead horse several times a week, but [ Read more… ]

No right answers

From our daily member newsletter on July 8, 2018

In my continuing “joys of sailing” series, I thought I would talk about docks around Long Island Sound. Although one can drag anchor, one rarely drags dock. (A little sailing joke for you.) Sure, it is a rather arcane topic, but hopefully it is one that you can use to amaze and astound your friends. You would think that docking arrangements everywhere would be pretty much the same. After all, you have a boat, you have water, and you need to tie it up for the night. Well, you would be very wrong. The truth is that just about every place you go is a little different. Some marinas have pilings you have to snag on your way in. (And [ Read more… ]

Human interaction

From our daily member newsletter on July 5, 2018

Since we have so many new members each year, I thought I would write something tonight about the mission of The FENG and how we accomplish our objectives for one another. Sailors are a naturally friendly lot. (Yes, another sailing analogy!) As one of the other couples my wife and I met at a marina pointed out, it would be considered more than a little strange to go to a motel or hotel and start introducing yourself to other people and ask them if they wanted to join you and your wife for dinner at some restaurant. Yet, sailors do it all the time. When you “blow in” from another harbor you have so many stories to tell and they [ Read more… ]

Job leads at meetings

From our daily member newsletter on July 2, 2018

At the beginning of time here in Connecticut, we spent most of our meeting gathered around the table discussing job leads. The idea of a 90-second announcement followed by fellow attendees suggesting who to call in our august body for networking had not yet been invented. Since people over value job leads, I thought I would provide my perspective on this important topic. I don’t claim to know everything. And, I would never stop our chapter chairs from trying things at their meetings. Who knows, they might be right and I might be wrong, but in my humble opinion, job lead information is best shared in writing. There are several reasons for this. First, speech is the slowest form of [ Read more… ]

Lost at sea

From our daily member newsletter on July 1, 2018

It has only been since about the time of the American Revolution that sailors have had the technology available to find their exact location on the face of the earth. Although determining your latitude was possible (those are the lines that run around the middle of the earth like the equator), knowing your longitude, or how far East or West you were, was simply not possible. What sailors did before that time was sail down to the appropriate latitude and then sail East or West and hope they didn’t arrive at a landfall in the middle of the night or in a storm. Alas, this happened all the time and many lives were lost. If you would like to learn [ Read more… ]

A sharp pencil

From our daily member newsletter on June 28, 2018

There is no more powerful tool than a sharp pencil. (The only equally powerful tool is The FENG’s Member Directory Search feature.) I long ago declared war on unnecessary words. Why? Because they are unnecessary. Duh! The normal space allotment for a resume is two pages. Okay, if you have to go to three I might be able to live with it, but generally two is the limit. It is not much space to describe the accomplishments of a lifetime, but you are making a mistake if you think it is necessary to describe each and every thing you have ever done. If you are as old as the hills (or dirt itself) like most of us, there are adventure [ Read more… ]

If you met yourself

From our daily member newsletter on June 27, 2018

Have you ever wondered who is that guy/gal in the mirror? I’m sure we all stare at that familiar face from time to time, but the real question is who are you and what do you do best? You would think that if you just took a few minutes and read your own resume, you could solve this one, but you would be wrong. Although it is possible you know yourself well enough to come up with an appropriate answer, for most people it would be a good idea to ask those who know you best what they think it is you do. The answers might surprise you. Early in my career when I worked for “the big corporation” I [ Read more… ]

Taking a step back

From our daily member newsletter on June 26, 2018

Let’s be honest, even though the unemployment figures suggest a strong job market, things are still challenging for members of our “well experienced” membership. This always being the case, many of our members consider opportunities that are well below their previous levels of responsibility and compensation. I would welcome the thoughts of others on this topic, so please do send in your ideas. Anything you would like published should be sent to Leads@TheFENG.org. Be sure to be clear if you want your name used. There are many issues that go along with what is happening. However, I would ask that we not delve into the issues of age discrimination. It has always been there and will always be there. I [ Read more… ]

Why bother saying thank you?

From our daily member newsletter on June 25, 2018

For those of you who are sailing fans and/or history buffs and saw the movie Master & Commander: The Far Side of The World, there was a scene where Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany were having a heated argument about the merits of flogging. The comment made by the captain was that the good doctor didn’t understand what held their little wooden world together. Please understand that I am not recommending we flog members of The FENG who fail to say thank you, but the analogy is that those who don’t say thank you apparently don’t understand what holds our little electronic world together. NO ONE ever hears thank you enough. All of you are very kind to me and [ Read more… ]

The luxury of discouragement

From our daily member newsletter on June 24, 2018

I suppose that feeling sorry for yourself feels pretty good. The problem is that it doesn’t do you any good and doesn’t benefit you in any way, shape or form. In this era of long job searches, it is easy to fall into this pattern of self abuse. Frankly, I don’t encourage it. While the light at the end of the tunnel may in fact be a speeding locomotive, when it hits us, we won’t know it anyway! So, why not put on a happy face and struggle as best you can? The truth is that every minute you spend focused on bemoaning that which you cannot change, is a minute you could be doing something productive. Yes, I know [ Read more… ]

Attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on June 21, 2018

I am frequently disappointed by the lack of attention to detail by the many members who write to me. There are so many things that are easy to do, that no one seems to do. Let me start with my primary concern – the lack of outgoing signatures. Incredibly, some emails I get aren’t even signed. A proper outgoing signature contains your name, address, phone numbers and email address. Adding one is so simple that it doesn’t bear explaining. If you aren’t using one, just click “Help” and search for “signature.” If you are wondering why no one is writing back, this may be why. Is your name Pat, or Leslie? You might want to let folks know somehow if [ Read more… ]

Fewer close friends?

From our daily member newsletter on June 20, 2018

There was mention of an article several years ago in The Wall Street Journal that Americans have fewer close friends. Intrigued at the time, I “Googled” and found a few press reports about the article. According to an article in American Sociological Review, in 1985, the average American had three people in whom to confide matters that were important to them. In 2004, that number dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants at all. As far as close friends go, I hope that all of you know that you have over 40,000 people to choose from. Any member of The FENG who doesn’t yet have at least 20 people in whom they could confide important matters [ Read more… ]

Reading, an important skill

From our daily member newsletter on June 19, 2018

I think that anyone conducting a job search would agree that to be really effective and have any chance, one must know how to read. Like anything else, reading skills exist at many levels. The purpose of tonight’s editorial is to clarify the nature of the job leads in our evening newsletter for those of you who are new to our organization, and also for those of you who think you know. It is also to ask you to read them carefully! All job leads in our newsletter are personal. They don’t appear by magic. They appear because SOMEONE in our membership took the time to send it in, and in many cases took the time to BUILD A RELATIONSHIP. [ Read more… ]

Just showing up

From our daily member newsletter on June 18, 2018

There are several folks who claim credit for it, but one of the things I have been heard to say from time to time that I didn’t make up is that “90% of life is just showing up.” (Okay, perhaps it is only 89%. Whatever!) As we begin the months of the well respected summer doldrums, I would ask all of you who are around when meetings are taking place of our various chapters and special interest groups to make a special effort to show up, especially if you RSVP for a meeting. I have to tell you that setting up a meeting requires a lot of hours on behalf of our many hard working chapter and SIG chairs, and [ Read more… ]

Unsolicited advice

From our daily member newsletter on June 17, 2018

It is a sad fact that most men don’t appreciate getting unsolicited advice. That said, there are even those among us who reject advice they have asked for out of hand and in a dismissive way. The giving and receiving of advice is always a delicate balance. Even though probably 75% of my mail comes in without an outgoing signature and I could pull my hair out over it at times, I still write “May I suggest….”, when I should say “Haven’t you heard me mention this before?” (I try to keep my suggestion about providing a FULL outgoing signature from being mentioned in my editorials to only once or twice a WEEK. Perhaps I need to pick up the [ Read more… ]

Your hidden assets

From our daily member newsletter on June 14, 2018

Almost all of the resumes I see are from members or new member applicants. What is surprising is how much trouble some folks go to disguising their seniority and great skills. It is my belief and I hope to make it yours as well, that the most important thing you have to sell is your wealth of experience. There are so many things in this world that only happen once or twice a year, and most of our members have seen them anywhere from 20-40 times. Like a song you keep hearing on the radio, even if you don’t sing well, you are bound to know the words and can easily hum a few bars. Hiding this important asset of [ Read more… ]

Playing to an empty house

From our daily member newsletter on June 13, 2018

I have often wondered how actors polish their performances before the first show. With only the director and the producer in the audience it just can’t be the same. Sure you are up there on stage and perhaps even in full costume, but there is no audience clapping or talking to each other to let you know how your delivery is going. Once you have a full audience, tuning up your performance has got to be a lot easier. Changes in gestures at key moments, raising your voice, lowering your voice, all seem to get a reaction. When I am speaking to chapter meetings I sort of experience the same thing. I may have thought through what I am going [ Read more… ]

Free advice

From our daily member newsletter on June 12, 2018

I guess the old saw is that free advice is worth what you pay for it. The other popular expression I use from time to time is “consider the source.” There is a whole “guy thing” about the giving of unsolicited advice. In much the same logic as the old saw about guys not asking for directions at the gas station, it is often difficult to find the right words to offer up advice to members when it isn’t requested. I, of course, see a lot of resumes. With such an obvious huge overview of the “resume landscape,” you would think that anything I said about a member’s resume would be gratefully received, but alas, it isn’t so. Unlike most [ Read more… ]

A career in marketing

From our daily member newsletter on June 11, 2018

Just as they should require finance and accounting courses for the members of the other professions in this world, they probably should require more marketing classes for the members of our profession. The question we are always trying to address, whether we are looking for work or currently employed is: Who are our real customers and what is it we are selling them? This isn’t a question that is as easy to answer as it might appear. Not being marketing professionals we often mistake cause and effect. What is it we do for the rest of the organization? Unless you are always thinking in marketing terms your “product offering” is not going to be well received because you haven’t defined [ Read more… ]

Points of difference

From our daily member newsletter on June 10, 2018

If I may paraphrase a line from the somewhat forgettable movie “My Cousin Vinny,” this is no time to blend. (With Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci) The essence of a job search is identifying and communicating that which is unique about you to the rest of the world. It is of course normal for human beings to want to communicate “I am just like you and therefore we should be friends.” It is a reflex action to try to find areas of common interest with those you meet. (Oh, you’re from Chicago? I stopped there once.) Just about anything and everything that will provide a “warm fuzzy” should be tried. That said, the time when this is inappropriate is our [ Read more… ]

Just checking in with you

From our daily member newsletter on June 7, 2018

I spoke to one of our members of long standing a few years ago who joined when we only had 100 members. Yes, I know it is hard to believe that The FENG only had 100 members as recently as 1997, but it’s true. We have indeed come a long way! I guess I had one of my many flashbacks while I was talking to him and I began thinking about the “early days” of The FENG and what ideas caused me to adopt our 5 day a week schedule. Having been unemployed for almost 2 full years back in 1991-1992, I personally knew the pain of being unemployed. Being as efficient as I am, I had my job search [ Read more… ]

Staying hidden from view

From our daily member newsletter on June 6, 2018

I often wonder if people really want to be found. It ranges from the lack of an outgoing signature with your FULL contact information on the emails I receive to answering machines that repeat your phone number when I call, but don’t indicate whose phone it is. The latest wrinkle is not putting a physical address on your resume. I’m not sure what to make of all of these obstacles people put in front of others trying to reach them. There apparently is a major outplacement firm recommending the deletion of home addresses. The fear is identity theft. While I would never recommend you put your date of birth and/or your Social Security number on your resume, I feel very [ Read more… ]

I’ve got you covered

From our daily member newsletter on June 5, 2018

We can all get a lot of help writing resumes. There are even lots and lots of very good books and articles on this topic. Still, the first thing most recipients read or at least glance at is your cover letter. As bad as most of the resumes I see are, the cover letters are often worse. We are all kind of stuck with the fact that in this electronic world, the email message you send with your resume IS your cover letter. Please don’t attach two files. No one has time to open and print two files. But, don’t include your cover letter as the first page of your resume because it will typically mess up all the pages [ Read more… ]

The illusion of time

From our daily member newsletter on June 4, 2018

Although this problem was more common several years ago when there were more corporate layoffs, I still from time to time see members waste the first 6 months of their job search. It’s not that they “goof off,” it’s more that they feel they have the luxury of time. As a sailor, I can assure you that time and tide wait for no man. Neither does the job market and more importantly the marketability of your career. Among the many things I hope are communicated in our newsletter are all the things you shouldn’t waste your time doing. Things such as mass mailings to recruiters or contacting accounting firms and lawyers you may know are generally not a good use [ Read more… ]

The truth would probably hurt more

From our daily member newsletter on June 3, 2018

If only those you interviewed with were legally able to tell you the truth about why you aren’t being considered for a particular job. Unfortunately, the things they are allowed to say to you are very limited. Lawyers do really run the world. If we lived in a Jerry Seinfeld world, they would just come out and say: “Aren’t you a little old for that job?” Instead, we have to endure that ever popular comment about us being “over qualified.” Or, perhaps they just didn’t like us. “Boy are you obnoxious. I could never even imagine spending ONE day at the office with you.” Well, perhaps over qualified does sound better. (As Butch Cassidy said: “Don’t sugar coat it Sundance, [ Read more… ]

Is procrastination beneficial?

From our daily member newsletter on May 30, 2018

As it has been said, never put off until tomorrow that which you can do today. Of all the things one can buy with money, time is not one of them. For those who “walk among us” who are thinking that the time is not far off when they might have to look for another job, I would suggest that the time is now. If you are relatively secure and fat and happy in your current job, this is not the time to call 100 recruiters and send out your resume unsolicited to the Fortune 500. It is, however, a time for preparation. As we know in The FENG, or at least I hope we know, ALL JOBS ARE TEMPORARY. [ Read more… ]

A standard communication device

From our daily member newsletter on May 29, 2018

The resume has a long and established history in our country, and while from time to time I see “variations on the theme,” the standard resume format is the one I always recommend. I would hope that all of us have lamented as Chief Financial Officers about our crazy vendors. Why can’t everyone who billed our firms, at least those from the same industry, take the time to come up with a standard format so our staff would know where to look for invoice numbers and balances due? If only they did. Alas, they don’t. Much the same story is true about the resumes I see on a daily basis. For the most part they revolve around a few themes, [ Read more… ]

Moving down market

From our daily member newsletter on May 23, 2018

I have often been heard to say that it’s always better to be working. Being overqualified for most of the jobs published out in the world can be a little unsettling. But, I think you just have to accept it as a fact of life that once you have 20-30 years of work experience, you have probably done everything at least once. The new and exciting part of your work life is now in doing the same things you have done before, but with different people and in different companies. The model that most of us have in our minds is based on our experience. (What else could it be based on?) The experience for many of us baby boomers [ Read more… ]

Are we a support or resource group?

From our daily member newsletter on May 22, 2018

Like the classic fable of the 6 blind men standing around the elephant, The FENG means a lot of different things to individual members. In part it is dependent on where they are in their career, whether they are active in a search, or if they are currently employed. It can also vary on any given day. Of course we provide support for one another. But, I like to think that the support we provide isn’t the “do it for you” kind, but rather it is our unique ability to be a resource for one another that makes the difference. The FENG comes fully equipped with extraordinary resources for our members. And, other members provide them all. It is sort [ Read more… ]

When the answer is no

From our daily member newsletter on May 21, 2018

Over the course of our careers, as financial people, we become hard wired to never take no for an answer. When a customer claims they won’t pay an invoice, we can come up with “offers they can’t refuse.” When engaged in a debate at work about the appropriate accounting treatment of some expense, we know our facts and argue persuasively, sometimes to the “death.” So, when we are competing for a job we believe we are well qualified for, it is in our nature to get a bit argumentative with the “hiring authority.” Why was it we didn’t carry the day? How is it even possible that we weren’t the most qualified person for the job? What was it in [ Read more… ]

A fine line

From our daily member newsletter on May 20, 2018

The difference between being viewed as possessing dogged persistence and being an outright pest is hard to define. Like beauty or obscenity, I guess we know it when we see it. I have had many jobs over the course of my career, some paid, some volunteer that have involved collection work. When I was Treasurer of my congregation for 4 years, one of my jobs was to collect outstanding dues owed by members. It was delicate work. In the urban legend in this world, those who didn’t pay on time or not at all were suspected of trying to get away with something. The truth was enough to break your heart some nights when I made phone calls. Very few [ Read more… ]

Reads and follows directions

From our daily member newsletter on May 17, 2018

One of the most important skills you bring to the party as a financial person is your ability to read and follow directions. If you accept this as being true, I can only wonder why so many members fail to carefully read the information so clearly presented in the postings that appear in our newsletter. As I am sure all of you know, I post a lot of opportunities for clients of The FECG in our newsletter. I have come up with a few simple rules that I feel not only work for our types of assignments, but I hope are logical steps someone responding to ANY lead from any source should follow as well. It is not reasonable for [ Read more… ]

Rain or shine – you can’t do much about it

From our daily member newsletter on May 16, 2018

I don’t know what the weather has been by you lately, but here in Connecticut we have had a very cold and damp spring. One thing you learn if you are a sailor is that there really isn’t much you can do about the weather. The wind is from whatever direction it is coming from and at whatever speed it chooses. All you can do is manage your vessel to take best advantage and, if need be, change your plans. A few days ago I got a note from one of our members seeking to raise the issue of “Is a CPA needed to be a CFO?” Or, at the very least, the question was, is it being required more [ Read more… ]

Networking is easy

From our daily member newsletter on May 15, 2018

Perhaps this is a bit of an overstatement, but I am primarily talking about networking within The FENG. As you all know, we have a Member Directory Search feature out on our website for your information and use. If you become aware of a job at a specific company, the odds of someone in The FENG having worked there at SOME point is a near certainty. With this aside, I thought I would share with all of you a few thoughts about why networking with your fellow members is so easy if you make any effort to do it right. If you think long and hard about your background and the kinds of fellow members who are most likely to [ Read more… ]

Networking-A lifetime activity

From our daily member newsletter on May 14, 2018

I was fortunate to speak with two of our more experienced chapter chairs recently who each in their own way in our wide ranging conversations reminded me of the importance of networking as a lifetime activity. I suppose to a degree, networking doesn’t come naturally to us financial types. We are by our nature “nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel” kinds of people who prefer “real” work to making phone calls and appearing to ask for favors. (What would we need a favor for anyway?) Over the course of my career, I was always a pretty social person. On a regular basis, I tried to meet the friends I made at my various jobs for lunch, and/or I [ Read more… ]

Proper uses of boilerplate

From our daily member newsletter on May 13, 2018

One from column A and one from column B. Sure makes it easy, doesn’t it? Much as our electronic world makes life simple, it also makes it more complicated in certain ways due to the opportunity to be lazy or inattentive to details. Just as there are only a few themes for good writing (man against man, man against nature, etc.), there are also lots of routine things we say in the letters we write during a job search. It would be unwise (that’s the same as silly or stupid) to reinvent the wheel each and every time. In much the same way that plays are tried off Broadway first, some of the phrases and their sequence in your cover [ Read more… ]

Beginnings, middles and ends

From our daily member newsletter on May 10, 2018

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes the job search process so maddening and one of the many conclusions I have come to is its lack of structure. (Someone should really redesign it!) Unlike all of the other projects we may have in our career as financial folks, this one may have a beginning and it may have an end, but it is the middle that makes us crazy. Hard to know at any point in time where exactly you are on the continuum. You know you have started when you begin your job search either because you have been terminated or know you will be soon. And, you know when you have ended, because you have [ Read more… ]

A short play

From our daily member newsletter on May 9, 2018

I don’t know how many of you participated in school plays during your early years, but there is a lot to be said about thinking about the interviewing process as a series of scenes in a play. Of course, the only problem with this visualization is the degree to which the audience is in charge of how the play progresses. Still, if you remember your lines and deliver them well, you can control much of the flow. All you need to do is work out the components and have them ready. Introducing the characters in the play and presenting their backgrounds as part of a story is a difficult thing to write. For those of you who have seen Patton [ Read more… ]

All things to all people

From our daily member newsletter on May 8, 2018

It sure is difficult to be focused. As each of us over the age of 40 looks at our career prospects for the rest of our working lives, it is all very easy to believe that we need to expand the market for our services to ensure that we can find another job. (After all how many buggy whips are made anymore?) However, after 20 some odd years in the work force, the likelihood is that you have acquired some very specific skills. Even with 30 more years of work to go, the odds of finding employment that is radically different than what you have been doing is not high. Although it is possible to do so, the most probable [ Read more… ]

Is anyone holding out?

From our daily member newsletter on May 7, 2018

I hate to ask if anyone is holding out, but is anyone holding out? One of the core values of The FENG is that we try very hard to share our job leads. Trust me, individual job leads aren’t as valuable as you think they are. And, if you share them, not only will you be viewed as a Fanatic FENG’er, but you just might make a few new friends. When the published job market is slow as it is now, it is important that we fill our evening newsletter with every possible opportunity that is floating out in the marketplace. If you are expecting others to share what they know, and you know about stuff, ask yourself why you [ Read more… ]

Being nice to everyone

From our daily member newsletter on May 6, 2018

Whether you are active in your job search or just trying to get your job done for “the great corporation,” it pays to be nice to everyone. One of my best friends is a real charmer and I always enjoy going out to dinner with him because we always get great service. He just has a way of engaging the waiter that lets this individual, male or female, know that he considers them to be a real person. I have seen others engage waiters as servants who “damn well better” get them their drink, dinner or extra of some kind, and I can tell you that it is my observation that Bob’s approach works better. (As evidence, I have never [ Read more… ]

Making introductions

From our daily member newsletter on May 3, 2018

Everyone knows a few important people who they believe will at some point be helpful to us in our search for that perfect job. The problem how to keep your name in front of them so when that perfect job comes to their attention you will be top of mind. You certainly don’t want to waste their time and you certainly don’t want to be annoying. A frequent question asked is how often you should float your resume in front of specific recruiters. The most common answer I have heard is about every 3 months. As a benchmark, 3 months is probably about right for those you know, although depending on who it is and how well you really know [ Read more… ]

The cup is at 50%

From our daily member newsletter on May 2, 2018

There is nothing more important to an effective job search than a positive attitude. Sure, building an effective resume, a pithy 90-second announcement and a library of cover letters is always a good idea, the fact remains that positively focused dogged determination tends to win the day more often than all of these same factors coupled with being down in the dumps. If you allow yourself to think that the world is raining on your parade or that you have been singled out for punishment by the gods, you are going to be in worse shape than if you do nothing at all. Think about the fact that all communications come from your brain. (Duh, where else could they come [ Read more… ]

The elephant sitting in the room

From our daily member newsletter on May 1, 2018

If you went to an interview with a broken arm, I’m pretty sure you would feel the need to explain. Honestly, sitting there with your arm in a cast, it is hard to imagine a productive discussion taking place until you tell your interviewer how it happened. Was it a skiing accident? Did you trip and fall? Inquiring minds want to know. On a smaller scale, all of us from time to time don’t seem to see that elephant sitting in the room. The truth is that even if you are only engaging in an email exchange, there can still be that huge creature waiting for some remark by you to explain its existence and reason for being there. For [ Read more… ]

Running around recruiters

From our daily member newsletter on April 30, 2018

Several years ago I received a phone call from a long standing Friend of The FENG. This particular search firm posted with us on a regular basis. In this case, the posting included the name of their client. You see, they felt that the relationship they had with The FENG was so strong and their confidence in us so high that they could provide this information and not get hurt. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Several of our members decided that they knew best and submitted their credentials directly to this search firm’s client. Not smart. Not only had they most likely eliminated any chance of their being considered for this relatively high paying job, but they had also embarrassed the [ Read more… ]

Your most recent 10 years

From our daily member newsletter on April 29, 2018

While from time to time I silently wish to myself that many of our members would take the time to read a good book about how to write a resume, I find that other members have read a book or an article, but they have either read the wrong book or have misunderstood what the author was trying to communicate. It is certainly true that the primary focus in your resume should be your most recent 10 years of experience. It is not true that there is NO interest in what you were doing before 2008, or for that matter during the last century. (Makes you sound a lot older, doesn’t it?) I see resumes all the time now where [ Read more… ]

Keeping hope alive

From our daily member newsletter on April 26, 2018

Whether you are currently working and hate your job or are currently in active search mode, the most important job you have every day is maintaining an optimistic view of the future. The stresses and strains of a job that is winding down may at times seem beyond bearable. Back in 1991 during the last several months before the advertising agency where I was CFO lost our largest account, the back biting and back stabbing among the “leadership group” reached incredible proportions. So too, job search itself is filled with highs and lows. The highs are always diminished by the possibility that the job offer you fully expect to get never comes. The lows when you have no interviews scheduled [ Read more… ]

Fixing a bad attitude

From our daily member newsletter on April 25, 2018

How often have you heard it said “He has a bad attitude?” We spend a lot of time addressing the bad attitudes of others. For example, discussions about age discrimination fall into this category. The world has a “bad attitude” toward those of us who are well experienced. (Over qualified.) Whether it is the world at large, or even ourselves, a lot of time is wasted trying to address “bad attitudes.” The truth is that attitudes (good or bad) are difficult to change. Early in my career I was part of a management group that worked with a psychologist on a regular basis. The approach he suggested was to stop trying to change the attitudes of others and instead change [ Read more… ]

Bashfulness is not my strong suit

From our daily member newsletter on April 24, 2018

Hard to believe, but bashfulness is apparently a quite prevalent condition among our membership. Yes, these same individuals who in prior lives as bankers were cutting off lines of credit or foreclosing on hapless widows have a near terminal fear of picking up the phone and calling other members of The FENG. Some other members in our circle of friends were known to have cut off customers from needed supplies because their credit didn’t pass muster. Others have been known to ruthlessly cut budgets despite desperate pleas by deserving managers. Yet these folks have the same condition as many others in our august body of “Near Terminal Bashfulness.” I have done a lot of research on this subject and have [ Read more… ]

Having the wind taken out of your sails

From our daily member newsletter on April 23, 2018

Conducting a job search, whether working or not currently employed, can be a difficult time. You tend to go through phases. (I don’t know if I like the phrase “in transition,” but it seems to continue to be well accepted.) At first it can be kind of exciting to be away from the daily grind of a job. If your last job was anything like the ones I was fired from, it was actually a relief of sorts not to be there anymore. And, there are new things to learn and skills to polish. Who ever thought that any of us would strive to be great writers of resumes, and who ever thought that we would get to enjoy making [ Read more… ]

Everyone wants to help

From our daily member newsletter on April 22, 2018

I know that some of you who have been at job search for a period of time may find this hard to believe, but everyone wants to help, it is just that they don’t always know how. I see it all the time at chapter meetings. Each person does their 90-second elevator speech, but rarely do they make clear how I can help them. Sure they might make a request, but it is not always something I can wrap my mind around. Many years ago I had lunch with Ted Stone, one of our members of long standing. It was a networking lunch of the first order, because Ted came prepared. He had with him one of the most powerful [ Read more… ]

When is enough, enough?

From our daily member newsletter on April 19, 2018

The story goes that if a frog is thrown into a pot of boiling water he will have the good sense to jump out. On the other hand, if you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, he will boil to death. (Please don’t try this at home. I like frogs. I am sure you can verify the veracity of this proposition on the Internet somewhere.) There are similar effects in the world for things like allergies. You can tolerate many things to which you are theoretically allergic, however, once you hit some predetermined level, you begin sneezing and your tolerance for the whatever you are allergic to is temporarily greatly lowered and you will [ Read more… ]

Arrested but not convicted

From our daily member newsletter on April 18, 2018

One subject that comes up all the time is the importance of having an explanation as to why you are looking for another job. I have always felt that it was a waste of your valuable time to provide an explanation in your 90 second announcement, and I still feel that way. Unless you were arrested and convicted of a crime, or fired for cause, I probably will not find any useful information in your explanation. And, if that was why you are now looking for another job, you probably won’t tell me. What I really need to know is the nature of your credentials and how I might be able to help you. So, I have always felt that [ Read more… ]

You talkin to me?

From our daily member newsletter on April 17, 2018

Yes, I am talking to you. The purpose of my evening editorial is to make all of you better at managing your careers, and in particular to educate you on what I believe are the key issues in appearing more professional and technology savvy in the digital world we all live in. Let me start as I always do with outgoing signatures. The purpose of an outgoing signature is primarily to enable others to reach back out to you with a minimum of effort. This means that your phone numbers should appear in the order you would like them called. And, if you have more than one, list it. (Three might be a little over the top.) If you believe [ Read more… ]

What are your sizzle points?

From our daily member newsletter on April 16, 2018

Very few among us are professional sales folks. It is for this reason that some of the more subtle elements of interviewing can easily go by us. When you decide to make a purchase you often have to justify it to others. When you do, you will find yourself repeating things the salesperson told you about the product. Much as you may cringe at the thought that you need to have a slogan or theme song, you almost do. The question I would have for you is how can you make yourself memorable? How can you communicate what we could call your sizzle points? In all of the interviewing that you do, except your interview with the final and ultimate [ Read more… ]

It is always better to be working

From our daily member newsletter on April 15, 2018

Even though the job market seems to be improving, I thought I would repeat a thought I mention to those who ask. Plain and simple, it is always better to be working. The strategy you take early in your career has to be one of growth. Each job you take has to move you up the ladder of success. However, once you have been a Chief Financial Officer or Controller of a significant firm, and especially if you have reached the advanced age of mid-forties like most of our members, I would suggest to you that it is simply better to be working. My own observation has been that most of our members move from large firms to smaller ones. [ Read more… ]

The problem with falling overboard

From our daily member newsletter on April 12, 2018

As the sailing season begins here in Connecticut my thoughts more and more turn to sailing stories and how they might apply to job search and the management of your career. (Of course, I think about and read sailing stories all the time, but I digress.) One of the great perils of sailing is falling overboard. I have 3 rules when sailing: 1. Don’t fall overboard 2. Don’t fall overboard 3. Don’t fall overboard To ensure that this doesn’t happens, especially when sailing at night, I always wear a lifejacket when underway and at night I always clip on. I also clip on when the wind pipes up. No exceptions. These are also the rules for the crew at night. [ Read more… ]

Chip firmly in place

From our daily member newsletter on April 11, 2018

Over the years I have had more than a few “interesting” discussions with new member applicants. I guess I can talk about them with all of you because they weren’t sponsored or accepted. Although I am in a position where I have to say no now and then, I try to visualize my role as that of “the welcoming committee” and not “the gate keeper.” However, as one of my Army buddies used to say: “There are some folks who wouldn’t be happy if they were hanged with a new rope.” Sad to say, but when the answer is no, and it is you, it is hard to take. What are the reasons why? And, as logical financial folks, I [ Read more… ]

The dreaded telephone interview

From our daily member newsletter on April 10, 2018

With everyone so busy these days, the dreaded telephone interview is being used more and more. In my opinion, the only purpose for a telephone interview is to do a quick screening of possible candidates before bringing them in for a face to face interview. It is not a good vehicle for totally qualifying candidates, but used effectively it can prevent a colossal waste of time on the part of both parties. Many folks look good on paper, but with a short conversation filled with probing questions, those lacking critical elements can be eliminated. If candidates need to be brought in from great distances it just makes sense to speak with them first. I hope I am being redundant when [ Read more… ]

Defining who you are

From our daily member newsletter on April 9, 2018

Probably one of the hardest things to do in life is to define who you are. Are you really your resume? Because we tend to be at companies longer than the members of other discipline areas, the reality of what it is we REALLY do best is not always obvious to us. Some time ago when one of my friends, Bob Graham, came to speak at our meeting in Connecticut, he shared with us a great interview question: What’s the biggest misperception about you? Believing that others have a misperception about you actually implies that there is something about yourself that you don’t accept. Unfortunately, most of us are often the last to know or at least the last to [ Read more… ]

Are you ready to retire?

From our daily member newsletter on April 8, 2018

I don’t know about you, but at the age of 71, I still have more than a few miles left on my odometer. The thought of retirement is still something far off into the future. I imagine I will get to that point in my thinking someday, but it isn’t now. When members call me for advice, I always ask them how old they are. Lucky thing I’m not working for a corporation or I would probably get sued. That said, the reason I ask someone’s age is not to discriminate against them, but rather to give them better strategies. When I was in my youth in the 1960’s I suppose we thought the “old folks” didn’t know much about [ Read more… ]

The original conversation killer

From our daily member newsletter on April 5, 2018

My wife is a speech pathologist by education and early work experience. One of the things that drives her crazy is one word answers. Her approach in teaching speech has always been to ask questions that create a conversation. The only way to get the kids she was working with to improve their speech was to get them to talk. You can see how one word answers wouldn’t further that goal. In the context of networking, asking someone if they know about any open jobs is a one way ticket to a very brief conversation. Have I heard about any open jobs? Sure, but it was two weeks ago. I don’t remember very many of the details, but I’m sure [ Read more… ]

Asking for help

From our daily member newsletter on April 4, 2018

Asking for help is hard for many people. I don’t know why that is, but I am sure it is just part of human nature. I guess we have been brought up to “do it ourselves.” It is sort of a mark of our independence when we become real adults. I have been told that this is the reason that guys used to refuse to stop at the gas station to ask for directions. (Thank goodness I have GPS and no longer need to ask.) The key is to know when your wheel spinning has reached the point that you would be best advised to ask for help. The reason I bring this up is that there are so many [ Read more… ]

Hi, it’s me the pest

From our daily member newsletter on April 3, 2018

Probably one of the most difficult issues to resolve when competing for an appropriate job opportunity is how much follow up to do. It is a fine line indeed between ensuring that those making the decision know you have real interest and making a real pest of yourself and changing their decision from yes to no. Decisions seem to take longer and longer today. Add to this the natural reluctance of folks to deliver bad news, and you have the “horns of the dilemma” that we all face. One of the little recognized dangers in doing too much follow up is when you think the interview went well and they don’t seem to be getting back to you. The short [ Read more… ]

First impressions

From our daily member newsletter on April 2, 2018

We have all heard the old saw: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” There is also this amendment: “Don’t make your first impression your last.” I only wish everyone would be so kind as to repeat these sayings to themselves in all the things they do with regard to their job search and networking. For example, you are certainly welcome to come to meetings of our networking group in business casual. But, keep in mind that some of those attending will be coming from interviews and will be “dressed to the 9’s.” And, you need to consider what you are going to be asking for at those meetings. Typically it is nothing short of [ Read more… ]

Explaining the magic

From our daily member newsletter on April 1, 2018

I am often asked by our members to give them a “formula” for constructing their very own 90-second announcement. If only that were practical. The problem with 90-second announcements is very much related to the very limited time you are allowed. Having been in the advertising business for nearly a decade, I can tell you why advertising creative people make so much money. It is just plain difficult to hone a message to 90-seconds, let alone 30-seconds as they normally have to do. Your own message needs to be tailored to you, unlike your resume which for the most part should conform to accepted formatting standards. Other than telling others your name, most of what you say is up to [ Read more… ]

Organizations have character

From our daily member newsletter on March 29, 2018

One of the more amazing things I find myself discussing from time to time is that organizations seem to take on a life of their own. Even when I “drop in” many years later I find very little has changed. As I “drop in” to chapters of The FENG around the country, one of my goals is to find out how our “character” is developing. It is hard to believe that our organization has so many common elements around the country, but it does. In the beginning, I signed my 3-4 page newsletter to my friends in the original chapter “Regards, Matt.” Hey, they really were my friends, and I knew many of them quite well. Old habits die hard, [ Read more… ]

A few left over parts

From our daily member newsletter on March 28, 2018

When I was growing up, my father was a plumbing contractor and I had the great experience of working with him weekends and summers from my early teens until I graduated from college. The test we used to determine whether or not we had correctly completed a complicated installation was whether or not we had any left over parts. (We usually read the instructions as we were driving away from the job.) Please know that a lot of mechanics use the same technique when they work on your car. Left over parts are a type of profit if you can use them for something else. (Hopefully, none of them are critical to the functioning of whatever they were left over [ Read more… ]

Watching your back

From our daily member newsletter on March 27, 2018

It would be great if we could all see behind us while at the same time looking forward, but it just isn’t possible. And, sometimes just looking forward is hard enough. We have all heard about the “buddy system” that swimmers use. And, of course, having someone “watch your back” is a concept we are all quite familiar with. One of the problems The FENG has always tried to educate our members about is the mistaken belief that job search is a zero sum game. While it is certainly true that only one candidate is going to get the job, the goal is to ensure that one of our members is that person. I hope that it is you, but [ Read more… ]

The Energizer Bunny

From our daily member newsletter on March 26, 2018

Probably one of the hardest things to do during a job search is keeping yourself energized. If you are conducting your job search from home, it can be even more difficult. The thing to recognize is that conducting a job search is in some respects painful for us financial types. We don’t get to do spreadsheets (which we adore), and all we get to do is write letters and make phone calls. Sure, making phone calls to collect past due invoices is a lot of fun. But, making networking phone calls, now that’s painful. So, faced with not needing to sharpen our #2 pencils, it can be difficult to get going in the morning. After all, what is there to [ Read more… ]

Two peas in a pod

From our daily member newsletter on March 25, 2018

One of the great mysteries in this world is why any two people would network. Yes, I know this sounds like heresy coming from someone who has built his entire life on networking, but it is actually a very good question, and one that members who have not been exposed to “the truth” often ask. I don’t know if it is still true, but at Dallas chapter meetings members are encouraged to find their “mirrors.” I guess if you are standing side by side, you won’t look exactly alike, but face to face you appear to each other to be spitting images. Of course, Bob Walker, Co-Chair of the Dallas chapter isn’t talking about someone who LOOKS like you, but [ Read more… ]

Time is of the essence

From our daily member newsletter on March 22, 2018

For those of you who have had the honor of dealing with legal matters, you know that the phrase “Time is of the essence” is frequently used in contracts. The idea is that if you want to get the deal done, you better move quickly. (In other words, you will need to get off your duff.) The world today moves at a furious pace. No longer, for example, can we blame the postal service for not delivering that analysis that was due, or even blame the fact that we missed the Federal Express pickup. Most things today move at the speed of the Internet, and that is a fearsome and frightening standard by which we have to live our lives. [ Read more… ]

The importance of realistic expectations

From our daily member newsletter on March 21, 2018

It is an unfortunate fact of life that no one can find you another job except for you. While it is POSSIBLE that others can help you in some way, they can’t actually do it for you. What we do in The FENG is provide you with the tools for an effective job search. These tools run the gamut from advice about networking, to chapter meetings, to access to our membership directory using our Member Directory Search feature. As it has been said, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The resources for an effective job search are staring you in the face, but it is up to you to use them in the [ Read more… ]

Effectively using the non-answer

From our daily member newsletter on March 20, 2018

As you mature and become over qualified for just about everything, it is inevitable that you will be interviewed for a job (of limited income or responsibility) that you would like to have, but fear that you will be deemed too old or having previously earned too much money to be “happy” in. (If they were so concerned with you happiness, you would think they would understand how difficult it is to be unemployed.) Age it has been said is in the mind. I know I don’t feel old, and perhaps I don’t look old. Still, I am old, or at least older than others might think. Even if the number is fairly obvious since I graduated in 1968 from [ Read more… ]

Actors on a stage

From our daily member newsletter on March 19, 2018

In certain respects you have to envy actors. Every time they get up on stage they get to assume the role of some new personality or character. Sometimes I wish I could do that. I have often thought about my 90-second announcement and wondered what it would be like to assume the role of someone else for the evening. On the other hand, it is hard enough just being me. But, who am I anyway? Do the words in my 90-second announcement really describe who I am and what I can do? I know I have been going to meetings of The FENG for over 20 years, but I still wonder if I have gotten any better at describing myself [ Read more… ]

90% of life is just showing up

From our daily member newsletter on March 18, 2018

While I am sure the correct answer is “about” 90% (90% is a little too precise), there is no denying the fact that showing up is important. If you have an interview and you don’t show up, you can’t possibly get the job. If you expect to get paid, you have to show up for work. And, the list goes on. If you would like to consider yourself a master networker, showing up is also important. The groups that you belong to such as your local chapter of The FENG, your local Chamber of Commerce, your religious organization, these are all places where you should show up on a regular basis. If you don’t show up, the people who are [ Read more… ]

When in doubt, throw it out

From our daily member newsletter on March 15, 2018

I don’t know if your incoming snail mail is anything like ours, but we sure get a ton of unsolicited mail. The procedure we follow in our house is to pile the mail up and pull over a large garbage pail. The rule is, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Hard to believe how much junk mail we get over the course of a week. Returning from a vacation is a mind blowing experience as you excitedly bring the bushel basket of mail into the house to discover that there are only 10-20 pieces of “real” mail in there. The same thing is of course true about email. I have 4 addresses that I query several times a day, and [ Read more… ]

Believing everything you hear

From our daily member newsletter on March 14, 2018

It is a great talent of us financial types that we do a lot of data gathering before we make decisions. In any conversation we have we are looking for the reasons why and why not, and keeping a tally count so that we can construct a graph of some kind, I suppose. This isn’t a criticism. I find myself doing it too, and I should know better. It sort of goes under the heading of “ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.” Much of what I know about the world, I learned from other people. I listen to what they have to say and my “take away” is ultimately knowledge. Many years ago I was selling cable TV [ Read more… ]

Corporate thinking – a gentle version

From our daily member newsletter on March 13, 2018

It continues to be my observation of our members that for the most part we tend to move from large companies to small. Part of the reason is that we have no choice. Large companies generally speaking don’t hire senior executives from the outside. They try to grow their own. In any case, that leaves many of us from large corporations carrying the “burden” of perhaps several decades of experience in the ways of large corporations. I say burden because we only know what we know. Although the many tools we have learned in large corporations have their applicability, it is often difficult to know how to apply them in a smaller environment. A 5-year strategic plan, for example, simply [ Read more… ]

An inner circle of friends

From our daily member newsletter on March 12, 2018

If there is any topic I discuss more than any other in phone conversations and in face to face meetings with new members and old members alike, it is the process of creating your very own inner circle of friends. All you have to do is talk to friends of yours who have found jobs to see how high networking ranks as compared to all other forms of job search and to understand how important it is to create this exclusive and perhaps elusive kind of group for yourself. (And if you do have one, it is never big enough, so read on.) The first step is to figure out how to use our Member Directory Search feature. It really [ Read more… ]

Taking a punch

From our daily member newsletter on March 11, 2018

One of the lesser rated but most important traits of a senior financial executive is his/her ability to take a punch. I say lesser rated because many of our members who I have talked to over the years feel that having had a punch thrown at them and not having the good sense to duck is something they should somehow be embarrassed about. Let me be clear that everyone has punches thrown at them and inevitably you are going to be looking the other way and get hit by one of them. You can’t be alive for any significant length of time and not be caught off guard from time to time. That doesn’t make it your fault. Being hit [ Read more… ]

Managing our growth

From our daily member newsletter on March 8, 2018

By a significant margin, we are now the largest networking group of senior financial executives in the entire world. Not only that, but by any measure, we are more connected with each other on a national basis than any other organization as well. And, our reputation is well known. We no longer are a “secret society.” Over the “next piece of time” our goal as an organization is to manage our growth and strengthen the ties that bind all of us together and to our many audiences. The first step each of you can take on a daily or weekly basis is to be in touch with your fellow members. I hope that you will take seriously my request that [ Read more… ]

Square pegs for round holes

From our daily member newsletter on March 7, 2018

As someone who always suggested to his children that a pair of scissors would be a good tool for putting together jigsaw puzzles, perhaps I am not the right person to be constantly preaching about “qualified members only.” Still, having the SPECIFIC experience for a particular job posting is, generally speaking, the best situation for any job applicant. The reason is that you can’t easily talk to a job posting. When reviewing resumes against a position description, about 50% goes to location, 25% goes to industry background, and the remaining amount is a subjective judgment of your technical skills. So, what’s a person to do if they are the puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit anywhere? Well, I would suggest [ Read more… ]

Brutally direct advice

From our daily member newsletter on March 6, 2018

The FENG is a society based on helping others. (Not that they actually need our help, of course.) I realize that, at times, members are in a sensitive state and I try to act accordingly. But, I don’t really know if providing brutally direct advice is better than soft peddling what they absolutely have to do. As Butch Cassidy said in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”: “Don’t sugarcoat it Sundance, tell it to her straight.” The question is which is better? At our meeting in Connecticut I am frequently listening to at least a few pretty bad 90-second announcements over the course of a two-hour meeting. Even though I try to model a good announcement by going [ Read more… ]

Hurry up and wait

From our daily member newsletter on March 5, 2018

The mindset that is most appropriate for a job search is very much like my Army experience where we used to lament what we referred to as “hurry up and wait.” As raw recruits, we were expected to arrive at points at the previously appointed minute, whether or not others were ready for us. We would “double time” to ensure we weren’t late and then be kept waiting for what seem like hours and often was. As we used to say: “That’s the Army for you.” (Other words were used as well, but this is a G rated newsletter and I cannot repeat them here or in mixed company.) It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that [ Read more… ]

The 400 pound phone

From our daily member newsletter on March 4, 2018

Just as an experiment, I unplugged my phone from my desk today and took it upstairs and put it on our bathroom scale. (My office is in my house.) I am sure the scale is wrong because I couldn’t get the scale to even register the weight of the phone. But then, the scale is generally used to calculate my weight, and I guess the phone doesn’t weigh as much as I do. If a phone did weigh as much as most folks seem to think it does, it would probably crush my desk or break my toe if I accidentally dropped it. I don’t know, perhaps the part you put up to your ear is heavy. Or, is it [ Read more… ]

Don’t act desperate

From our daily member newsletter on March 1, 2018

The volume of your responses to job leads posted in our evening newsletter is always a concern of mine. With the strengthening job market for senior financial officers, one of the many things we have going for us AT THE MOMENT is our fine relationship with the search community. (Be sure to have recruiters register at our website if they are not already Friends of The FENG. There is a new “Recruiter Toolbox” available to them once they do which allows them to explore our demographics. I can assure you they will find this toolbox to be of great interest.) While it may be true that the viability of the major posting boards as a resource for recruiters is limited [ Read more… ]

The sploosh syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on February 28, 2018

Life onboard a boat, whether sail or power, is in many respects different than life on dry land. I was watching Ax Men on the History Channel a few years ago and the crew dropped a bolt on the ground from one of their pieces of equipment for which they didn’t have a replacement. Despite the “needle in the haystack” nature of this problem, they actually found it in the pile of logs and dirt. Not so out on the water. When something goes “over the side,” it makes a brief sploosh sound and then it is GONE. I suppose if it were large enough and expensive enough you could call a diver, but that is generally not the nature [ Read more… ]

Explaining the magic

From our daily member newsletter on February 27, 2018

One of the great challenges we face as financial folks is explaining to non-financial types what we do for a living. And, some of us financial types do things that are so esoteric that we need to work hard to even explain what we do to fellow financial types. At one time, I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency. To be quite honest, the accounting aspects of the job were not all that difficult. For example, we had no international operations and we were initially privately held. That said, what WAS difficult was getting all of those individuals with egos as big as all outdoors to work together to make a profit and preventing them from “burning the [ Read more… ]

Keeping busy and productive

From our daily member newsletter on February 26, 2018

One of our members wrote me a while back and asked me about how to keep a proper attitude when your job search stretches into what seems like an eternity. The reason he addressed this question to me is that he noted that I have mentioned on several occasions that beginning in March of 1991 I was unemployed for almost 2 years. (It was only 1 year and 9 months, but who’s counting?) This is not an easy question to answer from many perspectives. Time has dimmed my memory to a certain extent. (And, not only about my job search. Those senior moments happen more frequently lately, but I digress.) When I left my job in 1991 as Chief Financial [ Read more… ]

The challenge of redefining yourself

From our daily member newsletter on February 25, 2018

I have had several at length conversations with members from financial services organizations over the years. Fortunately, or unfortunately for me, I have no experience working at a bank, insurance company, capital markets firm, or asset management organization. As a result, I have been somewhat hard pressed to help in the challenge of creating an appropriate focus for their job search activities. The best thing that can happen to anyone looking for a job is to find an identical job with another firm. As in my case, if you were Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency, become a Chief Financial Officer at another Advertising Agency. That is clearly your highest and best value added. The business is identical and [ Read more… ]

Asking for the world’s smallest favor

From our daily member newsletter on February 22, 2018

Although most of us have acquired enough manners over the course of our lives that we know enough not to ask a stranger to give us his/her seat on a bus or train, when it comes to networking, I find that many folks don’t know when they have overstepped their bounds. The approach I would suggest to you is what I call “asking for the world’s smallest favor.” The silence is palpable when you are face to face with a networking contact and you ask for something you shouldn’t. It is much harder to see this same “stormy silence” through email when often times it is a non-response. The first “smell test” on a favor you are about to ask [ Read more… ]

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