#351: MM: The Jigsaw Approach To Having a Meaningful Finance Career

#351: MM: The Jigsaw Approach To Having a Meaningful Finance Career

What has completing a jigsaw puzzle got to do with having a meaningful finance career?

I’m always on the lookout for a good analogy to share, so in this bite-sized episode I share our careers are a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the full picture on the box and how we can quickly get around this to get the most out of your career and non-career activities.

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Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Andrew: Hi everyone. And welcome to this week’s Monday memo. Hope you had a good weekend and also had a chance to digest last week’s episode, where we talked about how we could perhaps restrict the water flow coming out at the top of a host pipe with our thumb and how that extra focus helped the water go further and seemingly fast.

[00:00:21] And if we did something similar in our finance careers, that extra focus momentum would help us get more distance and probably get towards our, our career non-career outcomes much faster. So this week’s approach let’s call it. The jigsaw approach is a bit of a complimentary. And what I’d like you to do is imagine that you’re gifted a jigsaw puzzle, or perhaps maybe one of your kids or nieces or nephews got one as a present and they really want your help to work together.

[00:00:52] I’ll help them figure it out. Now, also imagine that this just saw is quite special because

[00:00:58] it’s in a bit of a brown. Plain brown box. There’s no graphics, no artwork on it or any other suggesting that the what the jigsaw pieces should look like. And

[00:01:10] the only reason, what a jigsaw is, because it says on a jigsaw with 180 pieces and that when it’s completely give you an amazing and meaningful outcome. So what sort of thoughts that go through your head? Why would you want to take on such a, a task it’ll probably take forever and it’s going to take so much longer to do without a clear picture or a guide or map on what it should look like at the end.

[00:01:35] And if you’re helping a younger child you know how impatient they’re going to be getting into, you’re going to have to continuously motivate them to stay with it. Otherwise they’ll never get done. So you could be thinking that. Or some of you might actually think it could have been worse because it’s a jigsaw of 180 pieces.

[00:01:53] It could have been 1,800 pieces. Although if you think about it, our careers, they’re a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where the final picture on the front of the boxes is still a bit unclear or a bit unknown, or maybe a bit fuzzy, because when you take on a jigsaw and you don’t really know what the out of the picture looks like at the end, you still have some basic principles to pull on.

[00:02:18] Right. Which is. You would tend to start with the pieces that are there. Maybe the corner pieces are the ones that go around the edge or the border of the jigsaw. So you can actually start making a beginning when you’d like to look at what you see there. And it looks like they’ve all gone in the right place.

[00:02:36] Then you can maybe start putting the bits and pieces in the middle together and organize where they go. Albeit it takes a bit longer because you don’t have that picture.

[00:02:46] And it’s that unknown piece in the middle when it comes to putting together a jigsaw puzzle that presents a lot of challenges. Most of the listeners that contact the show or even in the teams I’ve led that’s the bit, they feel like they need the most help. Yes.

[00:03:01] And, and here’s the interesting insight, I think, with all of this jigsaw approach is that if you do something like, I don’t know, making a meal for yourself, or for someone you’re looking to impress most of us probably wouldn’t start making that meal without some sort of recipe. Otherwise, the outcome is probably not going to be very good or are as intended.

[00:03:23] And it might take a lot longer than it would have otherwise. It’s like we wouldn’t go on that long awaited vacation without probably having a plan to get there. So that we don’t miss the flights or connections and get the most out of that precious vacation time or even, if it came to the business.

[00:03:41] We’d have a hard time letting our business partners make business decisions without some sort of framework, budget, strategic objectives, or rolling forecasts or something to guide them and assess their success towards their strategic outcomes within a particular timeframe frame to make sure that the company was still generating sustained profitable growth and cashflow.

[00:04:02] And that’s that’s really the main decision we have to make with districts. So our approach is that we know the basics, what we need to do have we put the borders and the corner piece and the edge pieces. For that bit of unknown in the middle, we probably have a good sense of where some of the pieces will go just by having there in front of us, but we might not know what some of the pieces are and where they need to go.

[00:04:25] And it’s a question of how do we want to approach that? Do we want to try and do it all ourselves or do we want. Try and reach out to someone for a bit of help, a bit of guidance saying this is where I’d like to see my ideal career go towards. Can you help me understand how I need to get there? Or I guess a better what the strength and the numbers does it just in terms of filling in those gaps is that we bring on guests, mentors who share their hard oneness.

[00:04:52] Their experience of what they liked, or perhaps didn’t excite the most about their careers their parting thoughts, best bit of advice. Some of them have traveled the marked in many different countries. Some of them have led teams globally.

[00:05:05] Some of them marked in smaller organizations or as consultants, we’ve had people looking in on finance from the outside. So chief innovation officers, chief people, officers. We’ve had sales precedents come on as well and share like how finance could work better with those organizations. We’ve had people from finance go and work in sales and come back and advise, how would you get to go and do that path and come back because, was talking to someone during the week, they were thinking about leaving finance to go and do a sales role because that’s what seen that the modern CFO is someone who can actually appreciate where sales are coming.

[00:05:39] And a really cool way to some of our audience are actually accessing those insights as going to the web. And typing in the keyword. They’re looking for for the jigsaw piece for so to say. And what pops up is is the time, some show notes and transcripts of where that’s come up in the conversation with the guest mentors and actually earlier shows didn’t have transcripts.

[00:06:00] So we are actually actively going back over them and getting the transcripts of those and putting them up online. So you, then you can search. What nearly 400 episodes now to get those insights that really helped you get to where you want to in your finance career. And then there’s another chapter was I mentioned on the show a few times by guest mentors is, is trying to understand that ideal career outcome, a non-career outcomes you’re seeking, and then see on LinkedIn, for instance, which is, it was a massive repository of whose already done the things you’re looking for.

[00:06:33] Might be a little bit further down the path and you, and reach out to them because anyone who’s got to where they are in a meaningful way is probably had some sort of help. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a self-made CFO. I think there’s a lot of people who have helped them get there, or indeed anyone in finance, you don’t have to be CFO to be having a meaningful career in finance, or indeed if you choose another path or actually achieve those things, our society.

[00:07:00] Like how giving your kids Fonda and memorable experiences and not their, what I just said are on working with that charity that you’ve always wanted to, because you really believe in what it is that they’re trying to drive. And that gives a good balance to your career activity.

[00:07:16] I just don’t think it’s about the those of us living our careers. I’m responsible for our own careers listening in should be maybe thinking about this jigsaw approach, but also the leaders of teams whose careers they’re perhaps responsible for guiding and facilitating.

[00:07:31] I’m probably moving in a better direction. No, because if you’re a leader out there at the moment, and I’m hearing about a lot of days where perhaps you’ve got high employee turnover, particularly amongst the younger staff because it’s so easy. To find a finance roles at the moment there’s such demand in the profession globally, or perhaps some of your, all the team members are a bit disengaged because they’re wondering what’s happening to their roles, but with the onset of digital and having robots do a lot of the work that they used to do.

[00:08:02] So we’ve got this sort of engagement challenge or retention challenges, or one way of, of not just improving business outcome. As a leader, which again is our sort of our role, but also the outcome for our team members, our teams, and so on.

[00:08:18] It’s actually sitting down with them

[00:08:20] and helping them figure out what the borders are off the jigsaw puzzle and figuring out how the pieces need to fit in between those books.

[00:08:29] And as a leader, what I’ve probably found is that is, is, is, is interestingly, most people probably don’t ask for help. And I can relate to that. Cause I was one of those for a long time. Did the same things that drew me into accounting and finance profession in the first place. Yeah, seeking accuracy zero variance, reducing risk, getting the best out of business models, figuring it out. Having the right answers to the questions? Probably held me back from actually seeking advice and actually meeting people. I didn’t know all the answers and I just wish I’d started asking for help. And when I started reaching out and was completely open about that, I was really nervous about doing so people seem to want to help me more and they helped me in a way, even if it wasn’t directly, they would help point me in the right direction.

[00:09:17] And, and it’s funny looking back like it makes much more sense, right? Wouldn’t it be more important to swallow a bitter pride and try and get to where we want to, and a less bumpy, more efficient, more effective way. Right.

[00:09:29] So the call to action this week is to put those border and edge pieces into your jigsaw of your career and non-career outcomes that you want to achieve. What do they look like?

[00:09:38] What do they feel? Okay. Yup. Maybe even writing your ideal job description and then figuring out, okay, who do I need to seek help from? Or can I find something on dot com to help start filling those gaps in? Or is there someone on LinkedIn I can reach out to and ask for help and take two actions to stay.

[00:09:59] So I had to reach out those people or check out the website or LinkedIn or whatever to start filling in those missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle.

[00:10:07] And just to show you, I’m not frightened of asking for help, again, really appreciate your help. We absolutely love it. When we have, have our audience members recommend the show to friends and colleagues. I do have a fantastic group reach out to me last week. It was really great to get to know them of of new listeners out there found the show from other listeners.

[00:10:27] It’s just, it’s absolutely incredible. So again, really appreciate when you do that, you can subscribe on all the major platforms, iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon. Yeah.

[00:10:38] And thanks again for tuning in. So hope you have a great week ahead and until next time, take care of yourselves and let’s keep on building our strength in the numbers.

[00:10:46]

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