Today, I attended an annual meeting that a colleague predicted would be contentious. And it was…with undertones of mistrust. The voting majority chose to postpone decisions on the main proposed changes – we choose to choose later – so there will be more time for discussion and analysis. And of course, there will be an indefinite period of status quo and more risk to the ultimate outcome as time passes.

Recognizing your relevant time horizon can help you make more conscious decisions and better manage expectations. Mike Tyson went broke, in part, because most of the people he grew up with died young. Why save money for the future when you won’t live to see it? Why trust a negotiation that promises the equivalent of a good word later? Why approve a change with unpredictable outcomes? You must take controlled action to move people beyond the sure thing…it won’t just happen.

“Ok, I got something for you,” he said one day over breakfast. “Let’s say two guys are offering me a great deal on raw product.” I knew enough to know that “raw product” meant powdered cocaine, which J.T.’s gang cooked up into crack. “One of them says if I pay twenty percent higher than the usual rate, he’ll give me a ten percent discount a year from now, meaning that if the supply goes down, he’ll sell to me before the other [people] he deals with. The other guy says he’ll give me a ten percent discount now if I agree to buy from him at the regular price a year from now. What would you do?”
“This all depends on whether you think the supply will be affected a year from now, right?” I said.
“Right, so…?”
“Well, I don’t have any idea how this market works, so I’m not sure what to do.”
“No, that’s not how you need to think. You always take the sure bet in this game. Nothing can be predicted – not supply, not anything. The [person] who tells you he’s going to have product a year from now is lying. He could be in jail or dead. So take your discount now.”

Gang Leader for a Day