My favorite business podcast is New York University Professor Scott Galloway's "The Prof G Show." He generally has great guests, and the professor is brilliant, high octane and somewhat nuts. His new book, "Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity," talks about many of the disruptions that will permanently occur from this year of living dangerously.
Prof G talks about "gangster moves" (don't ask me why) — those brilliant things that companies can do to cement their competitive advantages. But gangster moves are not limited to companies. Here are some for your personal financial planning.
The most important gangster move in financial planning is wanting what you have. In our society, we either want more — a bigger home, a larger retirement account, a nicer car — or less — lower taxes, fewer competing needs, less uncertainty. I am not making a case for stasis, but the problem with more or less is that it keeps us from valuing what we currently have.
Clients who are always onto the next thing tend to find their satisfaction ephemeral. While it is true that we are all lacking things, we also have a tremendous amount. When we appreciate what we have, the emotional roller coaster of not getting what we think we want is minimized.
The second gangster move is accepting that we are not always going to keep what we want. Marriages end, businesses fail, kids move out, we get old. Appreciating what we have does not mean that we are going to have it forever; it means that we can value it until it is gone.
Something will replace it, although it may only be a memory and not something tangible. Our clients who have done a tremendous job of saving tend to be terrible spenders. They hold onto what they accumulated rather than spend it or give it away.
Ironically, this clinging tends to make them less secure because they fear losing what they have. If we accept that nothing is forever, we will learn how to deal with inescapable loss.
A third gangster move is to get outside yourself. Galloway points out in the book that "wealth cushions the small blows — lost jacket, an overlooked electric bill, a flat tire — while insecurity magnifies them." Getting outside our own lives and helping others financially or through volunteering reinforces the first two gangster moves.
When we give away some of our resources, we are tacitly acknowledging that we have enough and appreciate what we have. Be conscious with your giving. If you feel guilty about what you have, you can never give enough away to assuage that guilt. A real gift is about others, not you.
A fourth gangster move is when you disagree with something you are reading, ask yourself what is right about this. And when you find yourself in agreement, ask yourself what is wrong about this. Most things are more right than wrong, so when you are certain about something, you are no longer curious. Opening your mind will lead you to better long-term decisions.
A fifth gangster move is to see how this last year has been an accelerant. Things have changed rapidly, pushing us years ahead. My company was trying to figure out how to set people up for some remote work and suddenly in days we had to be totally remote. And accelerating us into remote work is working. When we eventually come back to the office, it won't be how it was before.
Your personal accelerant may mean that you don't want to work as long as you thought you did or you may not need to worry about how far that commute is when you are no longer stuck in traffic every day. Figure out what you want to do differently and accelerate it.
Another gangster move is to look at what is inevitably going to change and understand how to participate in it rather than fight it. Galloway writes, "[Netflix] is devoting the same capital to content featuring Reese Witherspoon and Jason Momoa as the state of California allocates to the 23-campus California State University System. If it sounds as if we're living in a dystopia, trust your instincts."
There is no doubt that education will have to change, but think about what else in your life will also change and how you will handle it. If shopping has moved to the internet, then you will probably require more discipline around your budget to avoid those artificial-intelligence-sponsored impulse items flashing on your web browser.
If you have more time because you are having things delivered and commuting less, see how you can use it to your advantage through experimenting with things you always wanted to do but for which you never had the time.
Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.