Power of Down Time and Disconnecting

We've all seen it and we're (probably) all guilty of it.  I sure am.  Smart Phone addictive tendencies. If it's the last thing you check before falling asleep, the first thing you see in the morning, and a part of your daily life -- even while on vacation, you need to know about some insightful research.

Leslie Perlow, author of Sleeping with Your Smart Phone and Harvard Business School Professor, challenged a team of Boston Consulting Group professionals to take "predictable time off". These "world's leading business advisors" fit the addictive tendencies I mention above, and over 90% work over 50 hours per week with a third clocking in at 65.

The results reported in Harvard Business Review were very telling -- I highlight a few below:

  • 51 percent (versus 27 percent) were excited to start work in the morning
  • 72 percent (versus 49 percent) were satisfied with their job
  • 54 percent (versus 38 percent) were satisfied with their work-life balance
This parallels a recent change at Volkswagen, which turns off the email push to Blackberries beginning 30 minutes after the end of the work day until 30 minutes before the next starts.  Interestingly, this is only for union workers in Germany -- not management, but I wonder if this will become a broader trend given the research findings.
My relationship with my first Blackberry (and the expectation that I would always be "on" as a PR professional) started ten years ago, so it is a tough habit to break.  In the last six months, I've been turning off on Sundays, and I have seen my creativity, productivity and energy levels increase.  Last year I even took a 10 day vacation without my phone.  (Well, I brought it with me, but it was turned off the entire time.)

The areas where I'm still struggling are early morning and evening times, when the urge to connect, produce for clients, or just make sure everything okay, is a strong one.  Perlow's research proves something I've known deep down for a long time -- that constant connectivity is neither the most efficient, effective, or health way to run a business.  It also proves that "mother is always right" because she told me to establish a set schedule and stick to it within the first month of starting my business.

Here's to a more productive, creative and healthier way of working!


I recently explored, How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything... in Business (and in Life). Author, Dov Seidman, a noted leadership expert, demonstrates that the nature of today's fast-paced, information-driven, social media enhanced environment has changed the nature of reputation and culture building.  As a marketer and management consultant, Seidman's message struck an important chord.

Our personal and professional "brands" are under more scrutiny than ever before.  In the 1960's -- think Mad Men era marketing, simply devising a great visual and copy strategy then funding it well would build a brand.  Now, forty years later, there are a multitude of inputs into creating and fortifying a brand's reputation.  Primary examples include positioning (intended by the company -- a la Mad Men), the actual living internal culture created by team members, traditional media reviews and real-time customer feedback made possible by social media.  All of these measures and more contributes to a brand or company's net reputation quotient.

So how we conduct ourselves is much more important than what we proclaim.  It is no longer enough to demonstrate only quantitative success metrics; a brand must strive to create a positive culture and reputation, which necessarily means embracing the qualitative measures of integrity, values, social responsibility and more.  Since we are constantly being evaluated, our messages must be more genuine; more organic and less concocted.

Personal and company reputation are therefore now the sum of "how" we've achieved instead of the collection of "what" we have achieved.  How is your company reflecting this in its marketing communication and management efforts?  Have you changed your approach to brand and leadership management in the last 10, 20 or 40 years?


Excuses versus Results
Our spring newsletter went out today highlighting a risky, but important topic for our industry -- the Top Five Excuses for neglecting marketing investment.

The first two -- "we don't have time" and "we don't have a budget" are perhaps the most common, but the other three are just as important to understanding the misconceptions surrounding the demand creation function.

We are excited to announce that we're in the process of developing an industry-wide sales and marketing survey.  The results report including benchmark metrics will be made available to all who participate.  The survey will go out this summer with results to be released just before harvest.