Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fire in the Belly

In case yesterday's blog had anyone wondering, I didn't mean to condemn the corporate world.  I had lots of fun clambering over my colleagues, trying to become a bigger dog than they were.  Those were fifteen good years, more than a fourth of my life.  It's a good way to use younger years, when fire's in the belly.

"Right, clambering, sounds like you," says Virginia.

More like trying to do the best I could.  I was lucky to join a Virginia bank holding company that valued its law department, not merely as coordinators of out-house counsel, but part of the business team.  One of my first projects was a review of all the forms customers saw.  We went through them with other departments, word for word, and deleted many provisions we decided were clutter -- because they were poorly drafted, out-of-date, or likely to be relied on once in ten years.  Does that sound like something Professor Warren, head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, talks about doing?

In a way, I was also lucky to leave that company for a mortgage business that filed for bankruptcy 6 months after I arrived, and then to work for a Maryland bank that didn't expect much from its legal department.  Changing jobs develops skills you might not learn if you stayed in the same company your entire career.  Sort of like moving to a new place, people greet you with, "who are you?" and "why should we trust you?"  After locating grocery stores, dry cleaners, and ATMs, the honeymoon is over and it's time to show why you're worth knowing.  After a couple changes, you find yourself thinking both, "I know you know more than I do about this place" and "yeh, you can trust me because I know what I'm doing and I can help."

What else can explain the gumption to quit after a year in what I'd long thought would be a dream job?  Number one, a supportive spouse.  Number two, a different kind of fire in the belly and another dream.

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