I recently read about Donna Dubinsky and her career at Apple Inc in the 80′s. I love reading about successful female leaders and find those stories very inspirational, from those who made it to billionaire status starting with a $5000 personal investment to those who made a more traditional but still impressive career like Dubinsky, they are all role models to me.
In the article, she referred to a very nice piece of advice she had received from one of her Harvard Business School professors. He had told students that the first thing to do after graduating was to start pulling together their “go-to-hell money”. Dubinsky took that to mean that as an employee you should never put yourself in a situation from which you could not walk away. As a fresh graduate you need to store savings and build a safety net that will empower you and make you able to walk away from work anytime you want.
How much money is enough all depends on your situation and financial obligations but for me I would say enough to get me covered for three months. I know I can find a new job within three months in the current optimistic economic situation in Norway. Note that the go-to-hell fund should be additional to your emergency fund because hey you want to have enough money to sustain yourself and your family for a few months and still be able to pay for reparations if your car break down!
Now does that mean you should you run away anytime a situation arises at work? No, not at all. But building a go-to-hell fund empowers you in a way that has far more repercussions than the ability to walk away from a situation. Your career and work decisions at many levels will be made on all but your financial dependency to your employer and that is power and freedom.