ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS MAY 16, 2005 THE MEANING OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND ALL THAT

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1 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS MAY 16, 2005 THE MEANING OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND ALL THAT ALLAN M. KAUFMAN I am supposed to congratulate you, tell you what a great profession you have joined, and tell you about the responsibilities you will have as new members of the CAS. I will do that in due course. In preparing for that I thought back to the words of wisdom I had heard in previous new member addresses. I remember David Hartman describing the careers of the seven members of his Fellowship class. I remember Roy Simon explaining the significance of the invention of mass marketed deodorants. But what else did Roy say? And what about all of the other talks? What about the talks I was forced (oops, privileged) to hear when I was a new Fellow and Associate. I drew a blank. That concerned me. Was this a major senior moment? Before I get further into trouble, let me quickly say something to past presidents like Stan Khury and Irene Bass who spoke in the past five years. I m sure I would have remembered your talks, but I was based in London and hadn t been to those CAS meetings. But before that? Fortunately, the Proceedings includes new member addresses. I joined the select group of people, past presidents giving new member addresses, I imagine, who have read through the complete collection of those addresses. The collection is smaller than I feared. The Proceedings have no such speeches prior to 1985 but was that a gap in the Proceedings? No, back in 1996 Mike Toothman observed in his new member speech that the new member address was only about a dozen years old at that time. One mystery solved there were no addresses at my Associ- 150

2 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS 151 ateship and Fellowship graduations, which go back to the early 1970s. Still, that search highlights the fact that there is a high threshold if I expect either you or me to remember this speech. For you, this is a unique day, so you ll remember the day if not the speech. For me, I choose to talk about something familiar so I can remember what I said, if not when I said it. My career has been about training actuaries from student to Associate and Fellow and beyond. I ll use this time to share with you ten rules that help me and which I have used to advise my younger colleagues. You ll need to decide if they apply to you. Rule #1: 80 Percent of Life is Showing Up Something close to this is attributed to Woody Allen. The key point is deciding to show up. I m an introvert, and I feel much more comfortable thinking about it than doing it. I draw comfort from this rule. If I agree to show up, and I m sure I can, that gives me eighty points. So let s do it, I say to myself. Having decided to show up, I inevitably prepare so that I can score additional points. I have discovered that others do the same. A corollary to this is that If a project is stalled, call a meeting. Usually, if forced to show up, everyone will prepare. Other corollaries are: ² No one has ever passed an exam without showing up. (New Associates take note.) ² In the consulting world I live in, getting out to see your clients is central. You communicate just by taking the effort to show up. ² For the highly analytical among you, make sure that you show up and talk to the rest of the world, even if you think the analysis was not yet done.

3 152 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS Rule #2: Remember, You are an Important Person Now I discovered at some point in my career that I had become an important person. This was a surprise to me. People cared about what I thought, said, and did. They found my advice helpful. They considered my approval, or lack of approval, important. Then I discovered that other people also failed to recognize when they had become important. Every few years, particularly when you are young, you seem to need to be reminded. This is a very good time to remember that YOU ARE AN IMPORTANT PERSON. You are successful. You are members of the Casualty Actuarial Society Fellows or Associates. The responsibilities of being an important person include: ² Speak up. ² Be a good role model. ² Treat your colleagues with respect. ² Be confident in yourself. You are a qualified actuary What is your professional opinion? You are a part of a profession that has become increasingly important. Rating agencies are holding the actuarial profession responsible for the reserve shortfalls in the United States. Regulators are holding the actuarial profession responsible for major insurance company failures in the United Kingdom. We may not think that this is completely correct, but it is not all bad. There is no doubt that they think our profession is far more important now than it was when I sat in your seat. As an important profession, we must be able to say what we can do, what we cannot do, and how we will go about doing what we can. Rule #3: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished This is one of my favorite rules.

4 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS 153 You should volunteer. Don t be surprised when good work is rewarded by more assignments. Good work is how we build capital with our colleagues, clients, and bosses. I have found that every one of my good deeds in volunteering has been punished threefold by requests for more volunteer effort. Please, go forth and be punished. Rule #4: Take Notes There are two reasons for this: 1) If you are under 50, it shows that you care what the person is saying. You are an important person. Taking notes shows your concern for the people you are dealing with. 2) If you are over 50, it is because you have to or you will not remember anything. Rule #5: Every Silver Lining has a Dark Cloud This complements the better-known principle that every dark cloud has a silver lining. Actuaries are usually good at the dark clouds. But if you also remember that every dark cloud has a silver lining it will help you keep a balanced view. You are an important person now and you need to keep your head when people around you are too exuberant or depressed to remember. Rule #6: Treat Your Children With Love and Respect; Never Compare Them You might think this has something to do with raising a family. Actually, it s not bad advice for that also. No, this is about your subordinates, clients, and bosses. Like children, they will behave badly demanding, whining, and disobeying. But, like children, it is probably because they have concerns that are not visible to you. They might be hungry,

5 154 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS tired, or dirty. With enough love and respect and patience you can, together, solve their problems. Second, never compare your employees or clients, at least not while they are listening. Everyone is unique. Everyone should be your best or favorite of that type. If you want them to understand what you are telling them, it needs to be presented to them as individuals, not related to how they differ from their colleagues or competitors. Rule #7: Let Them Speak They ll Think You re Brilliant It sounds backwards, but it is true. The best way to engage an audience, of one or many, is to let them speak. The best way to run a conference is to be sure that the audience is encouraged, and has plenty of time, to speak. I learned this rule from CAS program planners and then I tried it in meetings that I have run. The best parts of this meeting for you will probably be when you have a chance to speak up. If there are enough chances for you to participate, you will think the program was brilliant. There are dangers in overusing this principle. First, the introverts among you might abuse it as an excuse to simply be silent. Second, you are an important person now and sometimes you simply need to just tell others what to do and have them get on with it. Rule #8: Know Yourself Even if Learning is Painful You are the only tool you have for life. You are all good at acquiring technical knowledge that s how you got here. But do you know yourself? You might think of yourself as having strengths and weaknesses. Actually, we simply are who we are. Your traits might be strengths or weaknesses depending on how and when you use those traits. You need to know when your normal ways of doing things are a

6 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS 155 strength or a weakness. You need to know when to act out of character. That knowledge comes only from seeing yourself through other people s eyes. Even your friends will have trouble telling you enough about yourself. Even if they do tell you, you probably won t hear what they are telling you. One of the best rules in determining whether you have heard useful information is whether it hurts. If it doesn t hurt at all it s probably not useful. Remember that during your next performance review. Rule #9: Build a Cathedral Perhaps you ve heard the story of the two masons in the Middle Ages. When asked what they were doing, the first mason said he was laying bricks and he couldn t wait to finish for the day to have a pint with his friends. The second mason said that he was building a cathedral and could barely wait to begin work every day. When applying for my first consulting job, my potential future boss said, You know we do a lot of reserving here. Won t you find that boring I was naïve, but fortunately more correct than I imagined. I told him if the work was important to the clients, then I would find it interesting. Actuaries are doing work that is very important to their employer s or client s business. If you think your work is boring you might not understand how it is being used. On the other hand, sometimes the work is boring and it s time to move on. Rule #10: There is a Game Called Life Yes, really. It s a board game that is at least 45-years-old. At the beginning you set your goals. You allocate 60 points between fame, fortune, and love think of that as relationships. You go around the board and see whether you can achieve your goals.

7 156 ADDRESS TO NEW MEMBERS By deciding on an actuarial career you have positioned yourself well on the fortune points. If you volunteer for the CAS and in your companies, you are well positioned to achieve some fame. If want to achieve more fame points, you ll need to enter politics and maybe the American Academy can help. You will also be able to build many longstanding friendships within the CAS. But don t forget Rule #1 and make sure you also show up where your core relationships are at home. So in conclusion, you have been around the game board a few times and now you have completed a major milestone. Congratulations on that. I m glad to have had this chance to share my thoughts about what has helped me go around the board. Thank you.

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