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The Other Epidemic Of Obesity

The Other Epidemic Of Obesity

It’s high time business slimmed down and stopped fooling itself with crash ‘diets’ of job cuts and outsourcing
A real "fat cat"

The media are happy to keep reminding us that people in the developed world, especially the United States, are growing ever fatter; that obesity starts in childhood and continues thereafter to pump itself up on a diet of junk food, sodas, and ‘super-sized’ portions.

Yet what we almost never hear about is the exact same process going on in our businesses. Here it’s not junk food that is the problem, it’s junk activities and the ’empty calories’ of time wasted on things that have no real bearing on business success.

Just like many overweight individuals, business also has its diet fads — few of which ever work for more than a short time. When the bloat gets big enough to squash profits, organizations rush to shed jobs and cut back on ‘soft targets’ like training and research. For a while, the panacea was outsourcing overseas — until that got too expensive.

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All these fads tackle the symptoms, but never the underlying cause. It’s just the same with individuals in their working lives. They ‘fatten up’ their schedules and working days with empty calories: activit amounts of time while producing little or nothing of any real use.

Corporate ’empty calories’

What are these productivity and time wasters? At a corporate level, they include endless meetings and PowerPoint presentations, which waste time both in preparation and delivery; providing reports no one reads and statistics nobody uses or understands; preparing budgets that conceal the truth and quarterly figures that do the same; dreaming up projects and initiatives that spawn countless working groups — until they are dropped like all those before them; engaging in petty, inter-departmental feuds and internal warfare; the endless rules and regulations dreamed up by head office types seeking to justify their existence; and — worst of all — spending money asking external consultants to provide options and answers to problems that are totally the responsibility of in-house management.

Most such corporate ‘junk food’ emanates from the executive suite. Like the real stuff, it ‘fattens’ the organization — demanding resources, time, and energy — while providing nothing to further the business. Much of it is only there to satisfy some person’s lust for power, or provide ‘information’ to justify a piece of blatant self-interest. It’s intake without any healthy nutritional value in business terms.

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The outcome is sluggish, bloated, top-heavy organizations addicted to the sweet indulgences provided by eager consultants, busily fattening their pay-checks on ‘busy work,’ while distracting managers from the fact that they need to shape up, slim down, and start doing what they are paid to do — and doing it themselves.

Individuals and their bloated calendars

It’s not simply corporations that become addicted to ‘binge eating’ on useless activities, followed by crash diets of lay-offs and budget cuts. Individual managers do it as well, alternating between adding to their overwork and taking up the latest productivity fad to try to slim down again afterwards.

For such individuals, empty calories include notorious time-wasters like constant Instant Messaging; sending useless e-mails to everyone imaginable; calling pointless meetings to provide the illusion of being in control; continual micro-management (for the same reason); demanding that people check-in constantly — even when there is nothing to report; and running from meeting to meeting, convinced that a packed schedule indicates importance, when all it proves is that they rarely devote any time to their real jobs.

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Corporations filled with people like this find that the number of managers constantly rises (all these activities demand more and more people to keep them going), while those who do the real work are ‘thinned out’ to pay the cost of management bloating.

Productivity means never wasting time on what doesn’t matter

At every level, the simplest way to drive up productivity is to remove waste. Don’t spend time on what isn’t relevant to the business. Don’t apply energy to what doesn’t matter. Don’t allocate people and resources to activities that contribute nothing to the objectives of the business. Don’t add to red tape, dream up new ways to enforce compliance with petty rules, demand useless statistics, or massage the egos of those at the top.

People who genuinely lose weight know there is only one way to do it: by cutting back on their intake of calories and increasing the amount they exercise. Everything else is useless.

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It’s the same for business and working individuals: cut out the ’empty calories’ that clutter up your schedule. Increase the time you spend exercising the responsibilities that matter. Stay right away from expensive, heavily advertised junk foods peddled by consultants.

If you do that, your career will be healthier, your calendar will slim down to a surprising degree, and you’ll start enjoying your work again. After all, carrying all that extra weight around every day is tiring in itself, while massaging the boss’s ego is pretty disgusting work — especially compared with spending time on your real interests.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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