Lessons From The Top: What We Can All Learn From CEOs

Lessons From The Top: What We Can All Learn From CEOs
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It’s easy to look at life advice that requires a little money and disregard it because it doesn’t feel like it applies to us. That’s not always the case. We can all take a lesson or two from a wealthy CEO’s playbook, whether it’s about delegation, negotiation, or proper use of money. Let’s take a look at a few of those tips.

Photos by Nemo, Ollyy (Shutterstock), PublicDomainPictures, Anton Novoselev, a2gemma, jakeandlindsay, reid, lululemon athletica

Spend Money On Experiences, Not Goods

Lessons from the Top: What We Can All Learn from CEOs

A lot of us equate wealth with material objects, and subsequently we try to save our money to buy things. That’s usually not the best idea. In fact, according to The Washington Post, a number of America’s wealthiest recommend spending money on experiences first:

You may be surprised to learn that among the monied set, expensive cars, yachts, houses, jewellery and watches come at the end of the list….

The rule of diminishing returns is a harsh mistress with luxury goods. Do you really think $100,000 audio speakers sound 20 times better than a pair of $5,000 speakers? (They don’t). Is a $250,000 sports car five times faster than a $50,000? (It is not). These days, you can buy quite a lovely home for $1,000,000 (and much less in the country’s interior). Those $10,000,000 manses are not 10 times roomier. Anyone who has owned a $10,000 Rolex will tell you that a $39 Casio keeps better time.

When discussing the benefits of wealth, I have heard again and again about amazing experiences, family get-togethers, vacations, shows, sporting events, weddings and other events as these people’s most important life experiences. While these things cost money, nearly every family can afford reasonable versions of them.

This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. Researchers have known that experiences provide more of a psychological boost than material things, and new experiences completely change how we perceive time for the better. The good news for the rest of us is that shorter holidays are actually more memorable, so even if you can’t afford to take a lot of time away from work, you’ll still get a lot of out of the experience.

Delegate To Save Time And Avoid Frustrations

Lessons from the Top: What We Can All Learn from CEOs

As the old saying goes, time is money. If you’re running low on time, you’ll benefit from a classic CEO trick: delegation.

Delegating tasks to others, or paying people to do things for you seems like a luxury that most of us can’t afford. In reality, it’s far less expensive than you think. We’ve talked before about how small expenses, like hiring a house cleaner, can make your life easier, and it applies in all sorts of ways.

For most of us, delegation means outsourcing your most annoying errands. You can outsource your chores and work to all kinds of places, including sites like Airtasker, TaskRabbit, Zirtual, or Fiverr. Doing so doesn’t cost you much money, and it saves you a lot ton of time. Most of these options don’t cost that much money, and while they’re certainly a luxury, they’re a luxury most of us can afford.

If money can solve a problem, use it. It’s not always just about saving money, it’s also about saving time and making your life easier. If spending a little does that, it’s worth it.

Plan And Track Your Spending

Lessons from the Top: What We Can All Learn from CEOs

It’s the simplest advice out there, but it rings true no matter how much money you make: the better you understand how you spend money, the better you are at saving it. Time is certainly money, but spending a little bit of time each week with your finances is worth it. Finance blog Get Rich Slowly explains why:

All this budgeting and goaling takes time, but millionaires are willing to spend it. Prodigious accumulators of wealth spend nearly twice as many hours per month planning their investments as under accumulators of wealth…

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary for planning to pay off. In a survey of 854 middle-income workers, [the authors] found “a strong positive correlation” between investment planning and wealth accumulation. This extra planning doesn’t just happen… “Most PAWs have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

The key takeaway: everyone benefits from a little financial planning. Set aside an hour each week to look everything over, see where you money is going, and try to spend it better. Once everything is set up, you can automate the whole process so you don’t spend as much time thinking about it.

The lesson here is simple: take the time to look at your budget and plan your spending each week. It’s cumbersome and it takes a little time, but it’s worth it in the long term.

Negotiate Your Salary

We’ve mentioned before that not negotiating your salary costs you upwards of $500,000 in the long term, but salary negotiations aren’t in everyone’s skillset. Negotiations are hard and they’re a little scary. That said, we all need to know how to do it.

We’ve walked you through salary negotiations in the past, and they’re not nearly as terrifying as you might think. A salary negotiation is all about preparation, and after a little practice, you’re ready to go. Even if more money isn’t an option, negotiating for perks can make your job better. You can also take an old CEO trick and negotiate for a severance package instead of cash.

Negotiations can seem daunting, but we can all do it with just a little preparation. Done right, you won’t leave that $500,000 just sitting on the table.

Give Yourself A Quest

Lessons from the Top: What We Can All Learn from CEOs

We all know that goals are important, but it’s hard to really wrap our minds around what we want from work or life in the long term. Speaking with Bloomberg, Evernote CEO Phil Libin describes his goals as quests, and it makes a lot of sense:

For Libin, “Lord of the Rings,” the book by J. R. R. Tolkien and blockbuster movie directed by Peter Jackson, represents “the importance of having a quest,” he said. He likens his mission of creating a tool to supplement people’s memories to the journey Frodo and Sam embarked on to destroy the evil ring.
“Everything I needed to know in life, I learned from ‘Lord of the Rings,'” Libin said. “If you’re not on a quest, you’re wasting your time.”

It’s a little silly, but Libin’s point certainly rings true for all of us. If we don’t have a quest that probably means we have no idea what we’re doing. Figuring out what you want to do with yourself is no easy task, but we all have to do it at some point. What’s nice about Libin’s strategy is that the quest provides you with the long term goal you want to achieve, and it’s up to you to figure out how you’ll do it. We’ve heard this from plenty of other CEOs over the years, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. It seems goofy, but take the time to actually sit down and think about your quest and how you’ll get there. If you need a little help achieving that, we’ve certainlygot you covered.

The fact is that whether you have $30 in your bank account or $3 million, managing your life and finances is tough. But we can all learn from each other, and when it really boils down to it, being a CEO or wealthy investor doesn’t really change the game all that much.


    • … Seems like an incredibly arrogant statement.. Its easy to look at any of the most successful companies and poke flaws.. But the fact is.. They are the biggest in the world and you are bitching about people you don’t have any contact with on some random blog based on an article on ‘club troppo’, without any background.

      in short your input, is probably quite like your career with terrible and illogical biases like this – pointless and going nowhere.

      good luck out there.

    • Rather than complain about how somebody in a different role has it so easy, is overpaid, and is obviously not as good as you – why don’t you find out how they got there and take steps to move yourself from the overworked, underpaid position you’re in now to the underworked, overpaid position that they are in.

      Then one of two things will happen: either – you find there is a reason they made it to exec level and you didn’t, and a reason they get paid that much; or – you get to spend your time bitching about company taxes with your friends on the golf course, instead of bitching about managers on your PC at your mum’s house.

  • The empirical evidence (from economists all over the world) is entirely clear: CEO/exec salary is unrelated to performance. It’s a boy’s club — if they underperform, a mate finds them a higher-paying job elsewhere. If they get thrown in jail for some variety of corruption or dishonesty, they come straight out to another exec post.

    A little casual history reading, by the way, will demonstrate amply that supporters of the prevailing order *always* assume that critics are unhappy with their lot. I’m not. I like my work and live in a place and with people I love.

    What I don’t like is the super-consumers of the world driving our planet to a hasty destruction. I don’t want what they have. I want to stop them having it. It would be nice if the people would also stop admiring them for nepotism and psychopathy, though this is unlikely, given the reach of corporate propaganda.

    • It’s not about that at all, it’s that people with views like this clearly don’t understand what a CEO even does..

      Yes, the blame quite often does get put on the CEO.. Because that is their responsibility. Does that mean that if a company under performs it is always the CEO’s fault? Of course not…

      Quite often CEO’s change over after a few repeated periods of difficulty.. I think it would be naive to think that, in that position, you could be bought into a company and magically MAKE it profitable.. You can only work with what you have, which is usually why it takes many periods before they try another CEO – usually out of desperation or shareholder demand to do something.

      CEO’s have very different key performance indicators than whether the business suddenly makes money or not.. It’s more about what goals they set, and how they are executed in line with the companies vision/momentum. It would be impossible, and naive to assume you know how their performance is or was, but a hiring multi-billion dollar company does not.

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