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Beware the Experts

The story of Frank Sorrentino is pretty instructive here. As told in IBD today this man left a leadership position in a construction firm to start ConnectOne Bancorp.


After years of dealing with banks he had a different vision for how banks should be run. I will tell you from experience that anyone in the real estate business often sees banks as a colossal pain in the butt so I know his motivations were probably pretty high.


He had to find a CEO and, consequently, here come the experts. “You have to have someone with tons of banking experience to run the show”, they probably said.


So, ignoring his gut instinct, he hired a seasoned banking who promptly sucked the entrepreneurial customer centric vision out of the business. In essence, he ran the business just like a banker.


It probably wasn’t the fault of the banker. He likely just grew up in a banking environment and that was his experience. But most banks are a nightmare business. They are risk averse, cost cutting, potentially soul sucking environments that are about as entrepreneurial as a thumb tack (and much of that is simply driven by their business model).


Sure Mr. Sorrentino wanted a bank, but his vision was driven by what banks DIDN’T DO. If the “experts” had spent 5 seconds with this guy and really listened they would have given him different advice (maybe).


So here are some things we might learn:

If you have the vision, the passion, go with your gut. Sure you can listen to the experts but at the end of the day they don’t have their ass in the chair like you do. Given my background I can show you clearly how often “the experts” have been wrong when it comes to the stock market.


Don’t think that “experience” is always what you need. Sure someone may have experience but it may be the wrong kind and work to destroy your vision rather than build it.


Stay away from “box checking” on resumes. It is how the person “thinks” that must align with your vision. Just because they have a degree or some experience does not make them a better fit than someone who will simply work their butt off and gets where you are trying to go.

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