“Less is More”

This one baffles me. I’ve heard this mentioned a lot among many people. I’ve tried to “cotton” to this concept but I just can’t seem to grasp it. Sure, I can come up with a few words here and there that sound catchy but I have to really try hard at it. Like most things I suppose, its probably better that we stick to what we know best. I feel more comfortable with the longer version, so I figure if you like something then, by definition, you’re good at it? And that’s a KEY part of this particular blog. Do what you do best is my thought. Say you have a job and you’re assigned something you really don’t like to do anyway. Chances are you’re gonna do a piss poor job at it which makes you like it even less. Vicious cycle.

That’s one of the reasons I started “Ramblings.” Because the longer version fits my style. In addition to crunching numbers, (another thing I really liked about my old banker role) I wrote narratives for loan presentations during my 25 years as a loan officer. I probably wrote HUNDREDS of them to be honest. I had a routine, a rhythm to it, and refined it to an art. I’d do all the financial analysis one day, balancing financial statements, compiling equipment and vehicle lists for farm and commercial loan customers, loan trend sheets, spreadsheets for cash flows, both budgeted and actuals based on spreads from tax return information, credit grading forms, and on and on. I’d get all done with that and stop for the day. By then, I had a pretty clear picture in my head of what was next; a description of the loan purpose in a simple paragraph, loan performance during the prior year of operations, which could include way more than mere numbers, including weather factors, marketing risks and strategies, you name it, I did it. Next up came projections for the coming year; cropping plans for farmers, strategies for commercial businesses, marketing assessments and applications, etc. And finally, a recommendation and summary paragraph. The entire written presentation usually consisted of 500 to 700 words and sometimes took up an entire page. Funny thing is, I did it right off the top of my head first thing the next morning and rarely did it involve more than “one take.” I was that good and I’m NOT being boastful, trust me. Everyone knew it. I was the cream of the cream at what I did and though I sometimes took flak from some of my peers for some of the presentations I’d bring to committee, it was a rare moment when there were any questions when I was done reading it aloud via speakerphone with a dozen or more loan officers scattered all over Eastern Colorado and the front range of Colorado at the bank I worked for. “Uh oh, here comes Gus with one of his infamous War and Peace loan requests” they’d say. They joked about it but truth is, they were envious and I knew it. They did, too.

My point to all this is I’ve tried to be clever within the Facebook forum format in the past but I can’t seem to get away from “telling a story”. Because frankly, that’s what I did in that quarter century of loan narratives. I told a story about a loan customer that flowed smoothly, leaving no detail out, and nothing to chance. I remember vividly many times when bank regulators would come in to do an outside audit and I’d find out later from my superiors in upper management that they were highly complimentary of my skills, both in analytical and written form. I even helped to develop a credit grading system that included a very brief summary of key areas that was integrated into the loan narrative. One time, the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of Currency) kept coming out of our board room with reams of credit grading sheets they’d pulled from individual loan customer files of mine to make copies. I found out later why. They were distributing them in MASS among all the banks they audited throughout the Midwest U.S. as an example of quality work in order to see if they could get those banks to utilize forms and styles I applied in my role as a loan officer. I was duly impressed with that!

So, in an obvious way, that quarter century of experience is invaluable to me now and I’m grateful for the god-given gift. God knows I don’t have many but the few I do have, I’m pretty damned proud of! Tell me your phone number and I’ll remember it instantly for years, tell me your name is Joe Six Pack and I’ll forget who you are five minutes later!

So, less is more? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it takes more than just a clever burst of words to truly get your point across. You reading this might disagree and you may be right. All I know is it worked for me for a very long time so “don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

I’ll just “ramble” on then and see what the tide brings in tomorrow!

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