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Do You Know If You’re Keeping Your Edge Sharp…?

September 30th, 2012

As leaders of our respective finance organizations, as well as our position as executive team members, it’s incredibly important to not only maintain a focus on the business, but to ensure that the efforts you are putting forward on a daily basis are of the highest caliber. The question for any CFO, after multiple years with the same company, is whether or not you’re actually putting forth a high quality effort. Your ability to constantly bring your A-game to the table is dictated by your ability to maintain a balance between your professional & personal life. In my opinion, this is one of the hardest challenges for a CFO.

As my time with Quiksilver/DC Shoes came to an end, I know that my “knife” was being used on a much more constant basis and it was hard to keep that sharp edge. Between the early turnaround efforts, a relocation of the brand that resulted in significant turnover, an SAP implementation that was led out by DC, as well as general corporate challenges, it certainly was not your standard working environment. As difficult as it was, there’s nothing I would have changed about the experience and the lessons I took from working in another larger corporate environment.

Knowing I left the company with some serious battery depletion, I knew exactly what I needed to do for a recharge. I almost immediately left town for a few days and did some cycling up in Santa Ynez to clear the head and take a breather. This was followed up by a trip the following week to the same spot. This was then capped off by an intense 2-week cycling trip through the Dolomites in Italy where I spent a solid 2-weeks cycling and averaged over 5k feet of climbing for every day I was on the bike. By the time I had only a few days left in the trip I was ready to come home refreshed, recharged, and ready to charge again. I came home with a renewed sense of mission, enthusiasm, new blog topics, and the ability to take on what I know will be another wild multi-year ride.

It’s worth noting that just prior to my Italy trip, I had already accepted a CFO position with a new start-up, but knew this trip would be crucial. While I knew a new opportunity would provide a certain amount of excitement and new energy, but I also knew that I would not be able to bring a full armada to this new opportunity unless I took the proper steps to recharge. Did I work remotely for this new company while in Italy…absolutely, but I also knew that all a needed was a good 4-5 hour dose of masochism each day to charge those batteries. What I also realize is that I had a break in between companies to recharge, which is a much more difficult proposition if your engagement continues. However, the biggest question is whether you have the ability to recognize that your edge is getting dull…

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

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