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In Praise of Laziness: 3 Reasons You Should be a Little Lazier

Our country, like few in the world, is imbued with a culture of respect for hard work. We applaud the folks who slave through the summer and put in long hours “at the grind.” That mindset was shaped early in our history, when physical labor built the U.S. into the world’s engine. Whether it was farming, mining or industrial production, for most of our country’s development, the harder you worked the more productive you were. It’s a pretty straightforward linear relationship with physical labor: the more hours you work the more productive you are in a day.

Working in the “Brain Economy”

The challenge is that most of our workforce today has shifted from physical labor to mental labor. We live in the “Brain Economy” and that work does not translate in the same linear way that physical labor does. That means that rest, and some laziness, is imperative to being really effective with your time. Let’s discuss three ways in which being a little more lazy than you are today could actually help you to be more successful:

 

1.    Productivity increases with some rest. While many of us approach our day as a marathon, in reality it is a series of sprints with moments of high intensity and lulls interspersed throughout. Just like every elite athlete takes moments out of a game to rest and recharge during a break, we should approach our workday the same way. I found this idea to be a life-changer for me (with credit to Tony Schwartz). When I got sick and tired of being completely spent at the end of each day and having nothing left to give my family, I changed my workday habits and found ways to manage my energy over the course of the day. I’ll explain what worked for me. Try leaving your office for at least 10 to 15 minutes once at mid-morning and once at mid-afternoon. Talk with your folks about non-work items, take a short stroll outside, go get a cup of coffee or a smoothie. I then moved my workout from early morning, when I hated getting up and felt exhausted, to mid-day or in the afternoon at 4 p.m. I hated early morning because it would shorten my sleep, and I disliked late afternoon even more because I was spent, I wanted to see my family and I felt guilty being gone from them. There is no doubt that I am twice as productive throughout the day as I used to be, and I am still energetic when I get home. 

   

2.    Big ideas come to a mind at rest. Truth is that most of the busy work we do might be very important in a tactical sense, but will not allow for the strategic thinking that takes your business to a higher level. While you are accessible during your workday you will naturally spend most of your day reacting rather than creating. That means little likelihood for real change. You need a quiet, uninterrupted mind to be creative and to think about the big questions. It’s also true that being a little lazy will help you look for the easiest way to do something rather than just the best way to do something – they are not usually the same thing. Creating uninterrupted thinking time helps to create space for big ideas. Every major idea for evolving our business has come from dedicated think time with the team or while we were out of the office. Around here that happens every Friday afternoon for two hours, and every six weeks for the entire day for our management team. Non-work time even creates space for small ideas; this entire article, like most of them, was crafted while sweating through a hot yoga class (perhaps that’s why I get told my posts sometimes have a slightly “West Coasy Zen” thing to them).

 

3.    Your rest gives others permission to rest. We too seldom confuse activity with productivity. Most people comment on the large daily schedule scrawled on the white board behind my desk. Perhaps it’s because it includes gym (or yoga) time and several short breaks throughout my day displayed for all to see. Whether its fellow advisers or entrepreneurs, they usually think it’s very odd that I am so open about my rest time. I see the occasional disapproving glance, however, I know that our team appreciates the example that you should manage your day for output not for input (hours worked is not the right measure in the “Brain Economy”). No one here boasts about working over weekends or staying at work late at night – we don’t think that’s a badge of merit. It means you are overworked or don’t manage your day the right way. The management team takes time to recharge – they are forced to take two weeks off in one block. Of course there is never a good two-week time slot to be gone, but what we see is that it helps the team to manage the intensity of the work when they are here. If you have really productive and intense people who care deeply for what they do, you need to let them know it’s OK to be lazy so that they can be awesome when they are working.

There are few things harder to cope with in a company than a valuable partner who is burnt out, especially if that partner is you. Be a little lazy this Labor Day, and try bringing some of that with you into the office. You might be happier and more successful if you do.

Joe John

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Do You Know Which Financial Road to Take?

If you set out to go to a friend’s house for dinner and you had never been there before and you never got the address or location, would you just drive around aimlessly until you happened (hopefully) upon their neighborhood, then maybe located their street, and then walked up to each door to knock and ask if they lived there? It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? If someone asked you to come over, but they refused to tell you where they lived or how to get there, you would probably never agree to leave your house. You would want to know where you were going before you started out to get there.

It sounds so obvious – and yet, too many investors make investment decisions with no idea about where they are trying to go and what they want to find once they get there. At United Capital we talk about the “two eternal truths about decision making,” and the first one is that lack of clarity and understanding of yourself and the situation at hand will lead to poor decisions.

Without taking the time to be clear and specific about what you want, and to understand your biases toward money, your experience is most likely one of aimless wandering in the hope that you will get close to the financial end you seek.

While some investors might know they want to save for college, retire comfortably, support a loved one or pursue philanthropic interests, few think about the journey required to get to these end goals. You will need to make a lot of big decisions and trade-offs along the way.

We all have a viewpoint of money that is an accumulation of what we’ve learned and experienced over time. A bias could be that “You can never have enough money saved” or “If I die tomorrow, at least I have lived life to the fullest” and hundreds more like this.

When we combine our biases with our lack of specific direction, we have a potential for making bad decisions that don’t lead us anywhere, much less where we want to go.

Before you make another financial decision, be sure you are clear about what you want to accomplish and why it’s meaningful to you. Have a process and a checklist each time you make a financial decision.

To learn more about your biases and how they affect your financial decisions, visit www.honestconversations.com to discover your Money Mind®.

And don’t ever accept an invitation to go to dinner somewhere without getting an address beforehand!

United Capital

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A Matter of Trust

Do you avoid looking into trusts because you think they are only for large families or the wealthy? Many people don’t give trusts due consideration because they think they are for certain groups of people. To dismiss them, however, could be a mistake.  You may miss an opportunity to accumulate and protect assets for your own financial wellbeing and for the benefit of your loved ones. We hope this brief article sheds light on whether further inquiry into trusts might be beneficial for you.  

Without planning ahead, especially by utilizing the benefits that come exclusively from creating a trust, your family could face some harsh financial realities after you are gone. They will have to pay federal and state taxes on your assets.  This could dilute your legacy more than you realize or intend. Your assets will also become open to public scrutiny through the probate process. 
Trusts can alleviate both these concerns. 

The Basics

A trust is a legal entity that holds assets to benefit a third party.  The assets held in a trust pass to your beneficiaries free of estate taxes.  A trust could also help you shelter assets from creditors and allows you to continue to maintain influence over the distribution of your assets after death. 

Unlike Wills, trusts do not go through probate, a public legal process that typically takes time and costs money (e.g., legal fees).  With a trust, your private financial matters stay private, and your assets go directly where you provided.

A trust involves a grantor (you), a trustee and beneficiaries.  As grantor, you determine the provisions of the trust.  You also provide the assets and name your beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries don’t have to be family members.  You can name individuals or groups, such as church, charities or colleges, as beneficiaries.

A critical step in the process is determining who will carry out your wishes.  This person serves as trustee and manages the assets in the interests of your beneficiaries.   It can be a relative or friend, but many people have a professional trustee act as either sole or co-Trustee with a family member.

After death, the trust distributes your assets according to your wishes.  For example, the trust could distribute your assets immediately at your death to your beneficiaries.  Alternatively, the trust could continue to invest and monitor your assets until your spouse dies or until your children reach a certain age, or they could remain in the trust for future generations.  Another option involves distribution of just the income generated by trust investments.  

The Specifics

Trusts are intentionally flexible to meet individual objectives.  They typically serve as a key element in a comprehensive estate and wealth transfer plan or otherwise to direct the management and distribution of your legacy.  They can also be created to accomplish specific goals and can be combined to address the needs of multiple families and generations.  For example, if you have a loved one with special needs a Special Needs Trust can ensure they receive proper care after you die.  Likewise, a Charitable Remainder Trust could transfer some or part of assets to the charity of your choice.  

A Trust can also provide asset management, estate planning consultation and tax services, like investment oversight, financial reporting, asset disbursements and bill payment.  If you are your family’s CFO, these services may be of great value to your family when you die. 

Is a Trust Right for You? 

If you want the lion’s share of your legacy to pass to your loved ones and not the government, then you may want to consider establishing a trust.  You should also consider a trust if you know how you want your legacy managed, preserved, and distributed.

United Capital

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