More often than not, the skills and processes that make folks successful in one business work in other businesses as well. I think that’s a big reason why Keen Wealth Advisors has been able to establish such a strong relationship with the engineering community in Kansas City and around the country. Engineers respond to our checklist-driven planning process because they use the same kind of diligence in their own work. And we love working with folks who are hardworking, curious, and dedicated to following through on a plan.
Another skill set that will position you to succeed just about anywhere: strong communication. My guest today, Anthony Fasano, was rapidly advancing at a civil engineering firm when he realized that the best engineers had mastered more than just math and design. Anthony founded the Engineering Management Institute, which provides career and personal development resources for engineers. Anthony is also the author of Engineer Your Own Success, Seven Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career, and the host of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast, which Forbes cited as one of the 15 Most Inspiring Podcasts for Professionals.
Like my recent appearance on Anthony’s podcast, this episode will definitely appeal to the many engineers and employees of engineering firms whom we’re proud to work with at Keen Wealth. But the ideas that Anthony zeroed in on could get anyone thinking about skill sets that will help you further your own career, make a midlife career switch, or start your dream company once you retire.
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Follow your passions.
When Anthony started his engineering career, the number of options available to him was overwhelming.
“You don't learn about all these different aspects of civil engineering in school,” Anthony explains. “You only learn about some of the key components or the big divisions. I was definitely overwhelmed by this and saying, ‘I don't know what direction to go. I can choose a hundred different disciplines to go into and I'm just not sure what to do.’”
Eventually, Anthony discovered that he didn’t just want to be a successful engineer, he wanted to be a leader. He says, “I started looking at the different division managers, the department heads, the partners, the owners, the executives. And I noticed a really clear-cut pattern, which was, yes, they had the technical knowledge and background. But, in addition to that, they had really good management skills. They could communicate effectively with others. They could network, build relationships and bring in new business. They could prioritize and delegate effectively.”
Anthony did such a good job of pinpointing those leadership skills and developing his own that his firm started asking him to train other engineers! That’s when he realized he could turn his passion into a new career.
“I totally just loved doing it,” Anthony says. “I just loved this idea of being able to help engineering professionals and technical professionals develop some of the skills that we didn't learn in school. I knew it would be helpful to them in their careers. I decided to leave the company and start the coaching and training firm that is the Engineering Management Institute today.”
Master the human side of business.
I can really relate to Anthony’s experience. When I entered financial services out of college, the business was focused almost exclusively on an investor’s numbers. Twenty-five years ago, clients couldn’t just pull up their portfolios on their phones to check on their nest eggs. They relied on their advisors to provide that information.
And that was about it!
In those early years, I never dreamed I’d end up spending so much of my day talking to clients about their personal goals, their families, their struggles, and what a fulfilling retirement means to them. But, like Anthony, I discovered that there was more to being an advisor and running a successful firm than just mastering numbers. And the more adept I became at helping my clients use their money to navigate through their lives, the more passionate I became about it.
“The thing about being an engineer or a technical professional is as much as you may want to remain technical, you don't work in a box,” Anthony says. “You need to interact with people. You need to take instructions from people. You might need to give instructions to people. You need to have a team if you're going to work on projects of any good size. The people skills side of it, I think for any career line, it's important. That's why at EMI we really believe that every engineering company in some way, shape, or form, should provide skills training to their teams.”
Learn from someone who’s been there.
In Anthony’s book, he emphasizes the importance of finding a professional mentor, especially when you’re just starting out. In fact, he’s known many retired civil engineers who connect with new workers through professional organizations. “I think people need that guidance,” Anthony says. “There are generational differences. But there's also that fundamental core of optimizing and making projects, and really the world as a whole, more efficient. And so I think if anyone is willing to mentor, it'd be a great thing.”
Recently, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the importance of mentorship. My son, Devin, studies mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri - Science and Technology in Rolla. He's been mentored by multiple senior-level folks at Kansas City’s own Black & Veatch, as well as the RMEL Foundation. When he spoke at an RMEL conference recently, Devin’s core message was how impactful it was for him to communicate with and learn from professionals who have been engineers for decades.
And, from the other perspective, becoming a mentor is an activity that creates purpose and fulfillment for so many of the retirees we work with at Keen Wealth. Mentors stay connected to the professional networks that were so important to them. They also enjoy making a major difference in people’s lives and work by applying their lifetimes of knowledge in a new way.
I truly believe that engineers are the ones driving the productivity of the world. I'm honored that Keen Wealth has found a meaningful way to be involved in this thriving community and help such a remarkable group of people plan for the second half of their lives.
And, once again, I’m so grateful to Anthony Fasano for spending some time with us, and for the work he’s doing to help engineers progress in their careers. For more information on Anthony and the Engineering Management Institute, check out the following links:
- Engineering Management Institute
- The Engineering Career Coach Podcast
- Engineering Management Institute YouTube Channel
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Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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