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Talk is not cheap. I once worked at a CPA firm where everyone spoke in low voices, breathed confidentiality, and had sensitive noses as was implied by the fact that wearing perfume was strictly forbidden to clients and employees alike.

The firm dealt with a lot of old money and was respectable enough to name the price; a thing they did most generously. This is where the lesson that talk is not cheap was most thoroughly instilled in me.

The public accountants, consultants, and attorneys were pleasant, patiently listening to all of the stories told to them by their clients. They did not challenge the visitors’ desire to converse. By trade, they were legal authorities, estate planners, and wealth managers but when clients wished to add the roles of friend, counselor, and chatting partner to their list of services— they did not object. Yet upon return visits, clients shortened their stories, cut the crap, and got down to business. The reason, quite simple: time is expensive.

When clients gave wordy accounts of their travels, adventures, and families to the partners of the firm, they did not realize that they were getting charged the same triple digits per moment as they did while receiving legal advice or financial counsel. By and by, as they reviewed the charges on their bills, they realized how expensive talk really is. After the dawning dawned, return visits took on a different feel— the clients came to the office, smiled graciously and got down to business.

This experience illuminated the price of time. Time is always passing and how each moment is filled matters. Some doings are too worthless to justify the time they occupy and it is best to cut them before we get the bill.