I realized this morning that it has been a month since I last posted on here. So much for “resuming my weekly post schedule.” I have been putting a lot of time and energy into my new position with Bank of the West. It’s been a rewarding, successful three months and I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made. My team is coming together slowly but surely. We are learning how to work together with each other and what things need more work. My goals are coming along and I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire that will pay off in the coming weeks and months.
I left banking in 2007 for several reasons. The first was that I was just burned out. I had been working in a retail banking center since 2001. For anyone who has worked in retail banking, that’s a pretty long stretch, especially with the same bank. I started as a teller, was promoted to a Personal Banker, then a Senior Personal Banker and then finally a Banking Center Manager. I worked in some capacity in at least seven different banking centers in the Wichita area. I had worked countless Saturdays, nights, weekends. I had worked open to close shifts from 7 am to 7 pm on many occasions while simultaneously going to school part-time in the evenings to get an MBA from Wichita State. I also started my own lawnmowing and landscaping company and was managing a half-dozen accounts for that side project as well. I was burning the candle at both ends, and eventually just burned myself out.
In 2007 after completing my MBA, I started looking outside of banking. It wasn’t that I disliked banking, I just wanted to get out in the world and try something new and different. Wichita, being the Air Capital of the World, has a large number of aerospace companies. I figured I would try my hand at Aerospace, and after several interviews, I was offered a position at Spirit AeroSystems. If you had asked me in 2007 if I would ever return to banking, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy.
In 2009, I started to get the “school” itch again. I’ve always had a passion for learning. I enjoyed school immensely during my time there and I had always wanted to go to law school. I took the LSAT and was accepted to several schools, including the University of Tulsa. Spirit just so happened to have a satellite office in Tulsa, and so it seemed like my path was predestined to take me there. I packed up my wife and moved to Tulsa.
Law schol part time while working full time was a whole new challenge, but one I tackled head on. After completing my first year at school, I realized that the passion I have for business didn’t translate to law school and I just wasn’t excited about it, so I left the program. I knew that I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing for four more years of school, much less for another thirty or forty years following that as a career. At that point, I had to make a decision. Did I want to keep working in aerospace, a safe and rewarding career for sure, but not one that I was truly passionate about? I took a long time and did a self evaluation of my strengths and weaknesses and came to the conclusion that it was time to start looking for something that I could be passionate about.
When the opportunity to come back to banking came to me, I had to pause. Did I really want to go back to doing something that I thought I had left behind years earlier? The intervening years had not been kind to the banking industry. ”Too big to fail” had become synonymous with the banking industry and I read on more than one occasion that the reptuation of bankers had fallen so far that they were mentioned in the same breath as lawyers (ha!) and politicians. But, I decided to take a leap of faith and see what this new challenge had in store for me. I am truly glad that I did.
What I am reminded of every day is how rewarding this career is. There are three main reasons I enjoy banking so much: 1.) I get the chance to work with individuals and business owners to help them realize their own dreams through their financial means. 2.) I get to lead and mentor and train and develop a team of people whose passion for what they do often surprises me. 3.) The opportunity for personal growth and development is almost limitless. Let me dig into these a little deeper.
1.) Every day I come in to work and I get the chance to talk to people who count on my bank to care for one of their most intimate resources- their money. People’s livelihoods depend on my bank- to pay their mortgages, to buy groceries for their families, to help them buy a car, to help them buy a house- you may not often go to your bank, but that card you carry around in your wallet or the checks you carry around in your purse are there because of your bank. You use your bank every time you put gas in your car. You count on your bank every time you pay your electric bill. People depend on their banks in a way that is incredibly rewarding to me. Not only that, but I get the chance to talk to small business owners every single day about their passion- their business. Their excitement makes me excited, and it’s energizing.
2.) I get to manage a team of banking professionals. I’m finally the leader of a team again. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at Spirit because I got to be a part of a team that was doing amazing things, but there is a difference between being on the team and leading the team. I enjoy leadership. I enjoy it when my team counts on me. I love being the guy where, for lack of a less cliche saying, the buck stops. I also love getting the chance to develop, to mentor, to work with my team members to help them fulfill their own goals and aspirations. Want to be a Banking Center Manager some day? It’s my job to help get you there. Want to be a Commercial Loan Officer some day? Same thing, I want to teach you what I know so that someday you can do the same for someone else. Want to leave banking and open your own small business? I want to help with that, too, because if my team members are fulfilled and happy with what they are doing in life, then I am happy too.
3.) My intentions are not entirely selfless. I, too, long to grow and develop and get better at what I do. Within the banking indusry, there are so many rewarding careers that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But I have the opportunity to try any of those things out to see if that’s where my next big change will take me.
So if you’re wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t been posting as often as I said i would, that’s why right there. Because I am giving 100% of my time and energy to building this thing in my own image, and I know that it is going to pay off in the long run.