Finance Stoic 34 – Do Not Talk

The Daily Stoic Quote

Zeno would also say that nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 7.23

Daily Stoic Question

How is my arrogance preventing me from learning?

Daily Finance Stoic Response

My arrogance isn’t necessarily getting in the way of me learning anything today, that I am aware of!

But, isn’t that the problem?

We don’t know, what we don’t know.

Do Not Talk

I listened to a great Podcast on the Tim Ferris Show and the interviewee was Bob Metcalfe. Bob told a story of Bill Krause, who was the adult supervision brought in to run 3Com, the Company Bob had founded. Every time they were in a meeting together, Bob noticed that Bill appeared to be taking copious amounts of notes. When Bob saw his notebook, he noticed that Bill had simply wrote DNT over and over again. When he eventually queried Bill on what it meant, the response was that DNT meant Do Not Talk. It was Bill’s way of suppressing his ego so that others on his management team might share their good ideas.

We all need our own version of DNT, don’t we? I know that I do!

At times, not listening has gotten me into trouble. That said, I have been working very hard on my listening skills and forcefully attempting to DNT myself. At times, taking notes like Bill is actually my own way to do that. While others may think I am taking the notes for eventual reference, in fact, I almost never look back at my notes.

Ego at work

That was a long digression and was deflecting from a time that my ego actually did get me in trouble. In fact, it threatened my career progression.

It was a time that I was training for a specific new role that I was excited about. The challenge was that I saw they were potentially structuring roles on our team in a way that I would have to report to someone that I did not want to report to.

There were many reasons for me not wanting to report to this person, and I’m ashamed to admit that ego was one of those reasons.

In my 360 degree feedback, however, I was roasted on this point. It was clear to people that I was letting my ego get in the way of my advancement. Two key comments that illustrated this:

  1. Finance Stoic is unwilling to report to Ted*. It doesn’t make sense. There is so much that he can learn from Ted and he’s not acknowledging it. He’s letting his ego get in the way.
  2. By fighting the path we want for Finance Stoic, he’s putting his path in jeopardy. If he continues to let his ego rally against the destination, then he’s actually going to prevent himself from even reaching the destination he wants to reach.

*Generally, in all hypothetical situations, I refer to a person as Ted. Don’t know why, I just do.

Wow, it was a lot to take in. While, I knew I had been vocal on this point, I did not realize I had been this vocal or that my superiors felt this way.

To address the feedback, I buried the ego. I sat down with the two people that I was effectively reporting to and said, “Guys, I don’t care anymore. I’m tired. This has already been a long three years. Whoever you want me to report to is who I will report to. Let’s keep things moving”.

It was that simple. I buried the ego and within a year I was promoted.

Even better, we changed reporting structures and I actually ended up getting exactly what I had been advocating for from the start. In addition, since that incident, with my ego no longer in play, people have given me more and more opportunities to add value in areas outside my day to day, which I love. I also appreciate that it will continue to allow me to evolve my career.

Bury your ego my friend, and release who you can actually be.

Until next time,


Finance Stoic

2 thoughts on “Finance Stoic 34 – Do Not Talk

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