How has music helped to make you unique, especially in the world of finance?

This is the fourth in a series of questions asked of me by a marketing person researching for her new book.

How has music helped to make you unique, especially in the world of finance?

Even though I am in the financial industry, I don’t see myself as a finance person, not nearly to the extent of my senior colleagues. In the world of CFOs within the Fortune 500 companies with which we interact, I am very different. As I wrote in a previous question, a key skill of mind is improvising. I am very comfortable figuring out how I will do something as I plunge into a project. Finance people are not known for embracing risks and in improvising. They need to make numbers work and to steer their company in a predictable (growth-oriented) direction.

Now, before finance people object to my characterization, certainly there are very creative financial people. They are typically entrepreneurs or innovators like Michael Milken or Dennis Levine, although they tend to be vilified – but that’s a whole other topic. But when you are looking for an accountant, “improviser”, “risk-taker”, or “out-of-the-box” are not the first characteristics that come to mind.

Let me add that my type of company requires a great deal of creativity – in crafting the deal. We start with a germ of a basis for a deal and then work with the client to craft the financial structure into something that motivated the company to do the deal. These are very large deals, so it requires a great deal of consensus and motivation to do one with us. One of the most successful salespeople in our industry with whom I worked with for over 20 years liked saying that to be successful creating these deals, it’s like jumping out a window and figuring out how you’re going to land on the way down. It’s been many years since I did deals instead of the marketing, but I think my musical creativity and comfort with improvising helped me be successful at deal making.

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