November 2015

From the Editors

By Stephen James and Carlos Fuentes


Do I fit into a “one size fits all” world? We are bombarded by cookbook advice meant to apply to all situations at all times; does it really work? Can I really apply a few simple precepts at any given time and come out golden with minimal effort? Of course not! Each individual entrepreneur encounters different challenges that are unique to their situation. We need to determine what our goals are and then develop a plan that gets us there. We all have a different tolerance for different inputs to a problem. How much time and money am I willing to invest in this process? How much risk am I willing to assume? No two entrepreneurs will have the same answer to these questions. So, why do we continue to see advice offered as though we live in a cookie cutter world? It seems that most of us can take the advice of the tried and true and apply our own filter. We can end up in a place that is right for each of us that isn’t exactly where the cookie cutter puts us, but that suits our particular situation. This edition of the newsletter addresses approaching challenges in a manner that leverages the experience of others, all while incorporating the situation at hand. In this edition, we have the following articles:

  • Actuaries Can Make Excellent Networkers—author Mike Miele reminds us that networking is critical to all business people. It is important to maintain a vital network, no matter where you are in your career. Your network will alternate between providing and asking for your support. If you are in transition between opportunities, having a robust network is essential. Similarly, if a member of your network could use your help in finding that next opportunity, you have an opportunity to “pay forward” the value the network has provided you!
  • Strategy—by author Carlos Fuentes, examines the overuse of the word “strategy”; that is, when it should be applied and when it is simply gratuitous. We are invited to consider that the common parallels drawn between business and war are often not that compelling. Rarely are business people at risk of dying on account of their business (and if they are, maybe they should reconsider their line of work!). Strategy has its place in business, but its value should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Business meets Academia, authored by EAS chair Tom Totten, describes a case study of a startup company and how academic principles, disruptive forces and psychology were used to start a company.
  • Tom also provides us with his message from the chair with news of new council members, council activity and the Entrepreneur Book work that is ongoing.

If you have used or modified tried and true methods in your entrepreneurial voyage, please share with your community of colleagues at the EAS! Do you have stories to provide on how you applied your actuarial skills and tools in a non-traditional area? Do you have an opinion on how we could further expand or work into even more non-traditional areas? We would like to hear from you.

Stephen James, FSA, FCIA, can be reached at Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MBA, MS, is president at Axiom Actuarial Consulting. He can be reached at