In 2003 a headhunter contacted me about some significant employment opportunities. While I was not looking to re-enter the corporate world, the reality was that finding employment or consulting gigs in Maine was proving difficult. After a number of conversations I agreed to meet with two of the firm’s search committees. In preparation for the meetings, the headhunter said, “Look, these guys know all about your experience and record, your talents and skills. That part was an easy sell; you are their number one candidate and I expect you will get offers. They simply want to meet you in person to find out who you are, really.” He then went on to say that he needed a brief “Who Am I” statement from me; 250 words or less!
Sounds easy? As I pondered the assignment on the train back to Maine from NYC I began to realize how difficult it was to complete.
Below is the current version of my statement (it’s 248 words). While I rarely get employment inquires that interest me today, I have found updating it to be a valuable way to reflect and stay in touch with who I really am as a person. I used this technique with my MBA students at UMaine. After struggling with the assignment, they all agreed with my assessment that it was the most difficult document that had ever attempted to write. I encourage you to try it!
Oh, you might be interested in how the story ended. I did indeed get two very attractive offers and was confident I could negotiate even better contract terms. After some long discussions with Keiko and former colleagues, I turned down both offers. I decided that based on who I was at that point in my life, my internal compass was pointing in a different direction.
I embarked on a quest to find a way to share my political and business experiences with college or university students. Along the way, in addition to some interesting consulting work that came my way, I did take a job with LL Bean –– as a seasonal part-time cashier. I actually enjoyed the experience and turned out to be a good retail store management type. LL Bean retained me after Christmas and kept giving me more responsibility. From Head Cashier to Assistant Floor Manager to a full-time position as a Customer Service manager.
Five weeks later, lightening struck and I was offered a full-time faculty position at the University of Maine Business School as “Executive-in-Residence.” You can read about that in my forthcoming book tentatively titled The Accidental Professor … And Other Tales of a Wonderful and Fortunate Life.
Paul J. Myer – Who Am I?
I am a mature, experienced and highly motivated individual with significant business, community, academic and political experience. My career and accomplishments as a strategic and creative marketing and public affairs practitioner reflects my record as a collegial manager and collaborative team leader with experience in highly complex and demanding environments. Among my talents, the ability to effectively communicate – inform, inspire and influence (and entertain) individuals, small groups or large audiences – is grounded in the competence to understand and appreciate the needs and interests of others. These traits also enabled me to gain respect and recognition as a university teacher.
I am recognized as a resourceful and successful advocate and problem-solver with the demonstrated ability to facilitate constructive solutions. My stable employment record speaks to a deep-seated work ethic and strongly held personal and professional values, including those of loyalty and commitment. While I am a passionate, focused and results-driven professional possessing the toughness often required of a senior executive, I am a sensitive and tolerant individual who has learned to balance conflicting demands, make sound and fair judgments, and achieve business objectives in a principle-centered manner. My experience and training influenced the development of a strong customer-focused and relationship business philosophy that I consider a critical element for success in the competitive marketplace.
I enjoy life and work, desire to make a meaningful contribution to those who employ me and the community where I reside, and share whatever benefit I receive to enhance the well-being of my family.