EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

In the things that we do to communicate our background to others, we are at all times challenged by the need to generalize while at the same time being very specific. It is in all honesty, no easy task. And, it is easier said than done.

If for example, you are trying to change industries, your 90-second announcement and your resume need to be “generalized,” by which I mean all of the industry specific language needs to be removed and put in terms that will sound familiar to others.

Anyone from the advertising business knows the difference between agency income and commissionable billings. “Commissionable billings” is sort of a list price for media, but advertising agencies actually pay net. The difference between list and net is agency income, or actual revenue. This distinction is of limited interest and is totally incomprehensible to everyone outside of the advertising industry. Still, if you didn’t sprinkle your conversation with these terms with other advertising types, they would think you really weren’t familiar with the business.

The measurement of performance and your performance in particular is often hard to discuss or explain if your skill set lives in an arcane part of the world. That is the challenge you face, and unlike Mission Impossible, you have no choice but to accept it.

I once heard a lecture by a psychology professor who was writing a book for the college publishing firm where I worked. His explanation of his efforts to make his text understandable (and popular) included having students underline all the words and ideas that they felt weren’t properly explained in his book. As you know, college students can be brutally honest in their criticism, and they were. He ended up with a runaway best seller (at least in college textbook publishing terms).

Your challenge is to find friends and associates who will treat you in the same way. What aspects of your 90-second announcement and resume use terms that only those familiar with your industry would understand. Be honest here, do others even understand the skills you bring to the party?

Okay, now that you have a “layman’s” version, especially of your resume, make one that is industry specific, just in case.

When you can speak their language, speak their language. When you are in a land of strangers, go out of your way to learn their strange customs and learn their strange languages.

At some point you will achieve a balance or, you can just always have multiple versions of your pitch and paperwork for different purposes.

In this way, you will no longer be on “the horns of a dilemma.”

Regards, Matt

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