I had lunch with John Lothian and Doug Ashburn this last week. It was a nice day when got to Ceres so we sat outside. Soon after we ordered, our waitress rolled out the recently installed, maroon umbrellas to hide us from the impending rain clouds. The sky got darker and raindrops got heavier but John stubbornly did not want to move, so we sat outside and talked throughout the entire storm.

We talked about the industry and how it had changed. It’s no secret that times have been tough. We’ve fallen down but picked ourselves up, brushed off the dirt and are ready to move on.  

Our lunch got me thinking how I have weathered storms in the past. Just like the industry, I have had to figure out my place in a community when things haven’t gone as planned. I believe we can’t do it alone and it’s important to depend on the right people for help.  I also think it’s important to be flexible because sometimes you have to reinvent yourself. Here are some things I have learned along the way.

 Time & Commitment

It’s important to commit time to whatever you need to do to achieve your goals. Take time to understand where you fit into your community and how they can best utilize your strengths. You also need time in the way that practice makes perfect.   Figure out how to get it right and understand what might go wrong.

 Confidence in you and your network

One of the things that comes from putting in the time is confidence. It’s important to realize you can’t just be confident in yourself to make things work. You need to be confident in the relationships you have established as well. We can’t be experts at everything so in different ways we depend on people and products to fill the void. These are relationships you choose to commit time to so be confident they complement you well.

 Adaptability

I was a Creative Writing major in college. If you would have told my younger self that I would work at a trading technology company (let alone own a dog!) I would never have believed you. However, I rolled with the punches, caught a few curve balls and ended up happy in the derivatives space. Along the way, I’ve learned it’s easier to survive when you adapt to the opportunities at hand.  So be open to whatever may come your way and flexible in nature.

The rain finally let up on our lunch last Tuesday and our conversation died down. I walked from the Board of Trade past the Federal Reserve Bank to Orc’s offices. On my walk I thought about how the weather had come full circle. The sun had come out and it turned into a beautiful day in Chicago. I am glad we didn’t budge at lunch. While we may have gotten a little wet, we sat through the entire storm and survived, just like the industry.

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