Finding Your Inner Latte

For almost my entire adult life, I have been a student of the art (yes, the art) of personal finance. The Great Recession occurred about a year after I began my post-collegiate professional life. To put it mildly, the events beginning with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipping to 6500 were a major wakeup call. If I didn’t treat my money and what I did with it like a work of art, it would fail to be a valuable investment in the future.

That being said, I’ve always been annoyed by one piece of personal finance advice that seems to linger: cut out the lattes. I enjoy my latte - actually, it’s an iced coffee, thank you very much - and as long as I am contributing to my retirement, and my son’s 529 plan is funded, why can’t I run on Dunkin’?

I understand. The progenitors of this principle have applied a lot of thought and experience into generating a mindset. The latte is really just a symbol for something unnecessary that you can cut from your monthly budget that will theoretically allow you to achieve a financial goal or rack up big savings in the long term. And it’s a good principle by which you can go from debt to dollars.

For me, though, I’ll never be able to get past the idea of losing that daily dose of caffeinated joy, so I have to find my own latte. I have no issue with the advice itself, but the execution will never resonate with me.

I was reminded of this over the weekend when my friend, mentor and business coach offered this powerful advice:

Focus on what you do well, and eliminate as much noise as you can.

This is as true in entrepreneurship as it is in speechwriting and public speaking. However well-intended a technique for better speaking may be, sometimes it just doesn’t resonate with you. You work on it. You try to improve, but, for whatever reason, it’s not something that you’ll ever completely master.

My suggestion: find a workaround. If there is another technique that is easier for you - for example, using vocal variety at key moments - and will make your overall speech more effective, then you don’t have to worry as much about what to do with your hands. Allow your strengths to minimize your weaknesses.

If you need a collaborator in your corner to help you achieve this, it’ll be easy to spot me - I’ll be the one enjoying his iced coffee!