Get Ahead

While procrastination may successfully contain a task in a narrow window of time, it leaves little room for error. Why not ramp up, cross things off of your list and finish early? If you are ten steps ahead, any setback has a cushion. You will be less likely to fall behind. And from the mouth of a man who deserves the procrastination crown, trust me, it feels better to know you’re ahead. Stay ahead if you can.

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Transparency and Trust

Unless the key to a secret is murdered and disposed in a large body of water, people tend to find things out. You can try as hard as you can to guise things, but always prepare for the day when you need to own up to it (whether you blow the cover or someone else does).

When it comes to daily life, transparency may be the easiest and most genuine way to build trust. If you have nothing to hide, others will take comfort in believing you and run out of good reasons to hide things from you.

Throughout my entire management career, I have struggled with shielding information from my team to keep the machine running. Secrets don’t make friends, especially in business. As a common example, most managers pad deadlines so that their final deliveries can be met. In many cases, the real deadlines surface and proactive fake deadlines lose credibility. Why not admit final deadlines up front and set padded expectations for your team? Most people understand the truth and will respect you for being honest with them. They will deliver accordingly. Trust me.

Sometimes you need to keep secrets. If that is the case, at least be honest about the reason why (a security clearance or NDA contract are perfectly viable excuses). As hard as it may be for some people to accept, the honest explanation goes a long way. Don’t hide, don’t ignore, don’t dodge the question. Be as honest as you can when you can.

Savings: The Game

The best financial advice I received upon graduating college: always have enough cash in savings to survive for at least six months without income. I took that advice with a vengeance. Savings not only provide you with a security blanket, they award you the confidence and flexibility to make major life changes. The risks of quitting a job, changing cities, moving into a new place, taking on a life partner, and having children are dampened by the relative stability of an earned allowance. I would not have felt comfortable quitting my job, leaving Hollywood, and moving to Denver without the cash buffer I built since graduating.

Yes, savings are difficult to accrue. It takes discipline, commitment, and a passion to see numbers grow. I treat my savings like a game: I want to get the high score. With online banking, it’s easier than ever to convince yourself  those numbers are points on a leader board. Have fun with it and take pleasure knowing your high score means something real.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to find a way to make more money or live cheaper. And who really wants to live cheaper? Negotiate a raise, yo! But we’ll save that conversation for another time.