The Actuary Magazine June 2006 - Editorial: I Don't Need No Stinkin' Muse

Editorial: I Don't Need No Stinkin' Muse
by Tom Bakos

First of all, I probably watch too many awards shows–the kind where the winners have a long list of people to thank for their success–one of whom always turns out to be their muse. A muse seems to be a very popular thing to have–but all it does for me is cause visions of Zeus' daughters in long, white, flowing robes to flitter through my mind and I begin to wonder why they are giving the award to the winner and not to the muse. Well, just like the bandito Gold Hat in the 1948 film version of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" didn't need no stinkin' badge to pursue his dream, I don't need a muse to pursue mine–and neither should you.

The thing is, there are a lot of problems in the insurance industry. Problems need solutions. And, solutions don't begin with finding a muse. They begin with deep and lengthy thought and occasionally end with sudden, insightful inspiration. These are things that I think we actuaries do well. We innovate! I hope always for the good. Solving problems involves meditation, pondering, and, yes, musing on the problem. You don't need to find a muse or have a muse; you need to be the muse! So, lean back in your chair with this issue on your lap and get yourself into a proper state of mind. Ignore those funny looks you get from all those muse wannabes out there who walk past your office door. After all, what are they doing? They're lookin' at you. And you're lookin' into the future!

Joining you in your proactive thought is the Emerging Issues Advisory Committee (EIAC). In the last issue, this issue and the next few following, you'll have an opportunity to read articles that describe emerging issues in the insurance industry in which actuaries have a stake. In them, the EIAC has begun the musing process for you. We all hope that you will find these articles amusing, that is, of interest. And, we also hope they will stimulate your chair thoughts. But remember, as you lean back in your chair, it is important to have an issue of The Actuary open on your lap. I recommend this approach: read a paragraph then lean back and muse; read another paragraph and lean back and muse again; keep repeating until you either run out of magazine or run out of daylight.

Another topic for musing is the new branding plan the SOA has recently implemented. There is an effort afoot that will allow you to attend parties and other events, describe yourself as an actuary, and then not have to explain what that is. Of course, it also means your employment opportunities ought to be enhanced a lot. That too would be good for you. The SOA, lead by its intrepid board (of which I was once a member and you can be too–thanks to term limits), is presently taking us, willingly I hope, into the field of enterprise risk management–a first step into brand expansion. That, and the emerging issues articles, point to other things in our future that many of us wouldn't have learned about in our initial education process. It kind of makes you wish you were young again, doesn't it? But, you don't have to be young to think young! How, you ask, can that be? Continuing education, that's how.

Here in this magazine's pages, we try to do our part to further your education–and our own, by the way. We editors get a little head start. We get to read all of the articles before you do. But good brand image and the success of our profession does not really depend on our leaders. It depends on our members. So, please be involved. Evaluate your environment. Read and understand. Identify the problems. Find the solutions. Innovate! But, above all else, don't be anybody's muse. Take your effort beyond mere inspiration. Be a part of building the brand.