Chen and Friend: Finding the Right Fit, The One-Smart Business Focus

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‘This is part of a series about business–in point and counterpoint style–between Eric Chen and me. Chen had a stirring career as a young Wall Streeter who knew how to take companies “public.” I had background as a consultant to “Fortune 500” companies and we connected. Chen was prescient, he went back to school for advanced degrees (law and accounting), he teaches at St. Joseph College, Connecticut, and is also a management consultant, telecommunications being one of his niches.’

”Rath:” Last time, we talked about the stress interview. Today, we’ll speak on finding the right fit.


”Chen:” Arthur, do you believe in “The One?”

”Rath:” Ah, soul mates, the romantic ideal. Fodder for a million songs. Inspiration for those in love.

”Chen:” It is said that the Greek god Zeus split each mortal person in half so that each mortal was fated to spend the rest of his or her life wandering the earth until reunited with the separated other half.

”Rath:” It reminds me of a song my old roommate sang, called “The Hawaiian Wedding Song.” Ah… I can still hear Don Ho’s mellifluous voice:

‘”Promise me that you will leave me never.’
‘I will love you longer than forever.’

‘”Now that we are one,’
‘Clouds won’t hide the sun.’
‘Blue skies of Hawaii smile’
‘On this, our wedding day.”‘

So yes, I am a believer–if not an achiever.

”Chen:” Me, too. We’re a pair of romantics at heart. Now seeing that we’re talking about jobs, do you think that there is One job out there for you, or one career path carved out just for you?

”Rath:” Looking back on my career, “No.” How about you?

”Chen:” Let’s see . . . the first career I had was as a
concert violinist . . . that’s how I put myself through college.
After I graduated from college, I became an investment banker for
about ten years or so . . . then, I became a venture capitalist
for a few years . . . and transitioned into management
consulting. Now, I’m a college professor. Make sense to you?

”Rath:” Hmmm . . . sounds like my path, too: Newspapers,
advertising agencies, public relations agency–business
partnerships made and broken–business development, college
professor. So what does this mean? Have we missed our calling?
Do we have many callings? Are we dysfunctional?

”Chen:” No, we’re not dysfunctional and we don’t have career
attention deficit disorder. In fact, we’re the norm!
And we haven’t missed anything either. These days, people have
multiple careers and many jobs over the course of a lifetime.
days when most people worked for one company all of their lives
have gone the way of the dodo. Now, let’s take a look at why
someone would choose to leave a job. Why do you think?

”Rath:” In this environment, you can get laid off.

”Chen:” That’s right. This is an involuntary situation.
Getting laid off likely isn’t the fault of the employee. Getting
laid off sure necessitates getting a new job. What about
voluntarily leaving a job?

”Rath:” You could take another job that offered more
opportunity for growth and learning.

”Chen:” Any other reasons?

”Rath:” Sure. If I were changing jobs, I’d also like to
make more money in the new job, if at all possible.

”Chen:” So is the money more important or is the

”Rath:” I’d say the opportunity first, and then the money.

”Chen:” So it is with most people, even though it doesn’t
hurt if the money is better.

I was taught the business of investment banking by a gentleman
by the name of Joel. He was like a father to me. He took me
under his wing and held nothing back when he taught me
corporate finance.

He gave me his knowledge and purposely
introduced me to all of his friends to make my own. This
situation is very rare. Most people are very possessive over
their intellectual property.

However, it is truly a testament
to his greatness that Joel taught me as he would his own son.
In addition, I was given the ability and responsibility to run
my own deals much earlier than I would have if I had gone
through a more traditional promotion process.

As a result, I loved my job. I absolutely loved it. However,
after a number of years of serving as Joel’s chief lieutenant, I
was given the chance to run my own show and build a team of my
own. Leaving Joel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had
to do.

I wouldn’t have done it, but Joel, in his true fashion,
told me that it was time for me to go