JEFFERIES: Everyone is focusing on 5 things they can’t control — they should focus on these 10 things instead

Markets have been rocked in the past year by Brexit, a surprise result in the US presidential election, investigations into Russian campaign meddling and
an increasingly bellicose North Korea.
While these are important storylines to follow, investment bank Jefferies says your time and energy are better spent on more pressing issues that can directly affect your life.

“Despite all of the incredible ‘noise,’ it is clear that one thing has certainly happened these past 12 months,” CEO Richard Handler and executive chairman Brian Friedman wrote in an email to clients Wednesday morning.

“Miraculously the sun rose each and every day and the world continued to turn.”

Here are the issues a vast majority of people won’t be personally involved with, says Jefferies:

1. Determining what the Russians did or didn’t do during the U.S. Presidential election and what to do about it.

2. Deciding whether central banks should raise or lower rates and by how much and at what pace.

3. Deciding what to do about Kim Jong-un.

4. Determining whether England will have a hard or soft exit from the EU or change its mind and lean back toward the status quo.

5. Deciding what is going to happen with U.S. healthcare reform, tax reform, infrastructure investment, global repatriation or regulatory policy. (As an aside, on this last point, we can only hope for some directional improvement in all of these areas as nothing massive appears possible–but even modest improvement would benefit us all).

Instead, the bank suggests an alternative list of things that “may have a better chance of affecting this next twelve months than the five big-picture global challenges above” (emphasis ours):

1. Personally take steps to help improve the culture within your business. Mentor somebody or, better yet, set up a mentoring program. Work on a community outreach program with your co-workers. Make it a point to give clearer and more accurate performance reviews to people who work for you. Encourage people who work for you to give you open feedback and listen to it. Treat the people within your business with respect. Strive to help your organisation increase its diversity. Lead by example in terms of integrity, honesty and long-term values.

2. Help find new clients for your business. They are the lifeblood of every company and, while there is nothing wrong with doing the best job possible to serve existing clients, nothing is more rewarding (or valued) than extending the reach of your business by bringing in new clients who value your firm’s services and will help fuel growth.

3. If you are an investor, learn how to help market your funds and firm. If you are a marketer, learn as much as you can about investing. Always push outside your personal comfort zone. This is but one example of stretching and it can be extrapolated to every area of each business. Whether you wind up expanding your job scope or not, it will make you better at your existing responsibilities.

4. Continue your education. When you stop learning, you stop growing. This can be formal classes, on-line learning, reading or through novel experiences that you go out of your way to find.

5. Recruit new great partners for your business and help to retain the best ones who may have a moment of weakness. Help keep out all “bad apples.”

6. Help cut costs smartly and efficiently throughout your business without being asked or forced to do so. Those companies that have a culture of efficiency and caring about the bottom line will be the winners. Better for you to be leading this charge than having someone inside or outside your business doing it for (to) you.

7. Help improve your business’ brand every day. You are the critical asset. You are the voice and the face. You are what the customer, investor, supplier, vendor and recruit sees first and last. If you live the brand and strive to improve it every day, you and your business will become ever more valuable. If you think your brand is lacking in any one area, speak up and try to improve it.

8. Help innovate with technology. Be creative. Be aware of all opportunities that may be available to improve your business. You need to be open and available to think out of the box. Some things will work, some will not. Finding innovative solutions will require sometimes failing or taking a step back. Only winners have setbacks. Losers never do because they don’t try.

9. Spend time thinking about strategy and where you and your business are going. Every leader appreciates reflective, constructive and smart feedback on how to improve the strategic direction of the team, department, division or company. Employees become leaders when they help set, adjust or improve their business’s strategic direction.

10. Be constantly aware of the environment in which you operate, including all cross-currents from things you cannot control. There will be times to pause, reflect and wait for better clarity. There is nothing wrong with being smart and aware of the world around us. Just don’t be paralysed by it.

It’s good advice, no matter what your career or pay grade — and comforting words in a volatile time.

“We promise that on July 2, 2018, the sun will once again rise and the world will continue to spin,” says the bank.

We hope they’re right.

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