Happy post Fourth of July! I hope everyone had a good break and was able to recharge, spend time with family, and go on crazy adventures. I haven’t been posting or being active on social media because I was driving for the past couple of days to make it to good ol’ Alabama for my upcoming employment.
Enough with the excuses, let’s go over the day I met someone by chance and how he changed the way I behave, especially during networking times and/or meeting someone for the first time.
What does this have to do with personal finance? The behavior that I ended up changing allows me to live smarter, be more efficient at my job, and be better at dealing with people. Ever since he (let’s call him Gamon) changed me, I knew how to act around networking dinners with executives. It’s brought me connections I never knew were possible.
First, I want to say that I don’t build relationships with people just because I think he or she will be of help to me down the road. It’s helped me with every person that I’ve met, and even if one situation didn’t turn to be the best of meetings, it turned out better than if I hadn’t used what I learned.
It was at a company visit to Prudential that I met Gamon for the first time. This particular Prudential office provided financing to the oil and gas industry. They were going over the primers of the oil and gas industry, some of the projects that they were taking on, and the power industry as well.
I was wildly confused throughout most of the 8-hour session (a networking session included in the end) and tried to write down some of the presented material but couldn’t even write anything down. They were saying words such as LOE, AFE, artificial lift, and more like they expected us to know what the words meant. 5 years later, I still need to reference Google to find what the words mean.
By this time, I was hoping others would be in the same boat, that no one would be monumentally ahead of the pack. I was wrong. Gamon raised his hand and asked the first question. The VP who was presenting responded. Gamon immediately asked a follow up question related to what the VP said. Response. Follow up question. Response.
This went on for a good 10-15 minutes. On some questions he asked, the Vice President of the company had to refer to the Managing Director of the company to answer his questions. Gamon wasn’t trying to show off, he was trying to learn and gather as much information as he can to better himself and learn more.
I am pretty sure from the questions that he was asking he knew more than some of the full time professional starting in the oil and gas industry. On the bus ride back to the university, Gamon explained to me about horizontal drilling, vertical drilling, fracking, upstream, midstream, downstream, and everything in between.
I was amazed and flabbergasted that someone in university was so much more knowledgable than anyone in the trip. This wasn’t something that our professors taught us in class (if they did, I did not pay attention). He learned through the old fashioned way before Google even existed, Q&A.
Of course, he admitted that when he started, he didn’t know anything about the industry and probably asked not-so-ideal questions like what is oil and how many gallons per barrel oil held. But by consistently showing up and asking questions and not being afraid to look dumb by asking the wrong questions, a sophomore in college knew more than some full-time individuals in the industry, in my opinion.
From then on, I approached learning a different way and forgot my pride. I thought I was a know-it-all but in reality, I didn’t know anything at all. I started asking lots of questions at my internships, in classes, and in my friend’s personal life to get to know them better. Not every question was answered, which I respected and expected, but listening to other people let me be a better person than before the conversation with the person started.
Summation of the Lesson
The lesson that I learned from the experience was that understanding a subject matter, someone, or anything else should be the main goal above all else in a conversation. I now get curious about everything that I talk about with people, with some examples below.
- In a debate, I try to understand the other person’s position before responding by being curious and inquiring about anything related to his or her views.
- When doing a work task in my internships, I asked myself lots of questions, such as what is the problem that I’m trying to solve? How can I approach it? If it’s a task that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower, can I do it faster? I asked Google to find information to those answers to not bother my supervisor for something that I could figure out myself and asked my bosses when I couldn’t figure out the answer.
- When meeting someone for the first time, if it’s someone higher up than me in work, I ask questions about his industry to learn more about it. Afterwards, if it becomes appropriate, I try to build personal rapport. If it’s someone at my age or in the same rank, I get to know them personally by asking them about their passions then I keep talking about their passion by asking them follow up questions. I usually end up not talking about myself at all (will do so if I do get asked about myself) but that is completely fine for me.
I approach everything that requires my actual talking voice to be a learning one, unless I’m expected to be an expert in it. After a while, I knew exactly what to say during networking, possible pauses in a conversation, and approaching a problem.
The downside to this approach is that it led me to be very uncomfortable with silence and I’m trying to be more comfortable with silence in a conversation.
Readers, do you have anyone who changed the way you behave? Was it a negative behavior or a positive behavior? Let me know in the comments below!
My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!
Read more about me here.