Let's get it into perspective.
Here's a copy of the latest edition of JEFTODAY, a monthly newsletter sent out to all Jefferies employees by CEO Richard Handler and President Brian Friedman:
1. Life is fragile. We are each one phone call away from a doctor who says, “come in to the office, I don’t like the way it looks.” You may think you are having a bad day, but then you find out what one really is.
2. This fact of life is of course compounded by the worries we experience each day regarding the health of our children, parents and friends.
3. It was only two years ago to the day that we all sat around our Thanksgiving tables and were grateful we still had our jobs and our firm. While we all outwardly acted at the time like it was behind us, the truth is that in our hearts none of us really knew.
4. Personal relationships take a lifetime to build and are sometimes destroyed because of one stupid thought, action or word spoken.
5. There is not one person in this entire firm who is solely responsible for their individual production or success. We can each pound the table, elegantly argue the most one-sided of facts or threaten silly actions. When each of us goes home and looks in the mirror, the truth is in front of us.
6. Nothing would be accomplished at our firm if it weren’t for the thousands of people who support, protect and sometimes just “put up” with the revenue-generating producers. Without one group there isn’t the other, and of course there is also no firm.
7. One bad decision, cut corner, stupid email or short-term greedy action...and it is all over. Shame on any one of us if that is what it takes to remind us of how much we love our job, co-workers, firm or industry.
8. Financial wealth is not established or created in any one year. You may be able to work yourself into a lather and pass a lie detector test that one year’s compensation is life and death, but it is not.
9. There is a big difference between a job and a career. If you don’t know the difference, you will have less fun, less fulfillment and less success.
10. Companies are living and breathing organisms. If shareholders and bondholders are treated consistently well over time, they allow for wonderful careers and a collective sense of pride and accomplishment. If they are mistreated by even a small group of people, they perish and destroy joy and wealth. If you don’t believe this, just take a walk through the very crowded graveyard of once strong and proud financial services companies. It is up to all of us to keep Jefferies vibrantly alive by being long-term focused versus short-term selfish.
2013 started off well. The middle chunk of this year, however, was not good, nor much fun. As we approach fiscal 2014, neither of us has ever seen or been associated with a firm that was better positioned for success than Jefferies today. Our team, client relationships, diversity of businesses, capital base, brand and competitive position are all impeccable. Aligning each of these stars has taken decades of hard work, good collective judgment and decisions, and a fair amount of luck. The important thing is that we are exactly where we need and want to be today. Let’s especially enjoy our families and friends during this special time of year, get through our year-end process with true “perspective,” and on Monday start our 2014 right where we will end 2013…in a perfect place and with great momentum.
Rich and Brian
image: © Kai Chan Vong