Remember the scene in the Godfather when Don Corleone is talking to his son about the traitor in the family? “Now listen. Whoever comes to you with this Barzini meeting, he’s the traitor. Don’t forget that.”

This is my Godfather speech to my younger self.

You will not get paid what you’re worth until you have a competing job offer. Absolutely never show loyalty to a company until they’ve shown loyalty to you.

Life is risk. It’s not riskier to start your own business than it is to be an employee. Home ownership is not riskier than renting. And investing in a diversified portfolio is not riskier than keeping all your money in the bank.

Save up two years of living expenses so you can tell any job or boss to fuck off if you need to. This is not financial advice, this is mental health advice.

Negotiate. Never be afraid to have an offer rejected.

A strong no is better than a weak yes. This is true whether you are saying it or hearing it. Real negotiations only start when the other party says no. That makes them feel comfortable and in charge. Never push to hear yes.

You haven’t really gotten a yes until you’ve discussed the details of implementation. Never walk away from a negotiation if all you’ve got is yes. Keep pushing until either they move on to implementation or they admit the answer is no. After they say no, you can finally find out what the real issue is.

The real issue is never what anyone says it is at first.

Nearly all interpersonal conflict is actually about someone’s perceived position in the family tree. Stop thinking in terms of personalities or issues and start thinking in terms of roles and relationships.

The person who is attacking others publicly for being toxic is the toxic one.

Whenever someone accuses you of doing something totally outlandish, pay attention. That’s what they are doing or what they did.

Everyone projects. It’s impossible to know anyone else’s intentions. Whenever someone tells you your intentions, they are actually telling you their own intentions. Keep your distance from people who accuse you of being selfish or manipulative. Keep people close who tell you your intentions were good, honest, or that you tried your best.

What people say is their identity is actually who they wish they were, or who they are trying to be. As a result, some people are the exact opposite of what they say they are. Others are simply trying. But almost no one is who they say they are yet.

Especially in business, stay away from blamers and complainers. Everything will eventually be your fault too.

Be very wary of anyone who puts you on a pedestal early on. They will turn on you just as quickly, and with just as little justification.

Whoever approaches you with negative gossip about someone else is the one who has the problem.

And when a “friend” relates what someone else said behind your back, it’s probably what they said behind your back. Passive-aggressive people are terrified of confrontation. By claiming someone else said it, they get to stab you and avoid all responsibility. Anyone who really cares about you is going to be extremely hesitant to tell you what others say behind your back.