When you find out that a major public figure is really an army of one–you sit up and take notice.
The currrent issue of TIME magazine (with Jack Abramoff on the cover–finally without a hat!) has an interesting group of articles about health and medicine.
This excerpt first caught my eye:
Sure, Orman has the usual battery of electronic devices–in fact, she runs a paperless office but has strict rules for using her gadgets. “When I am writing, I don’t answer phones. I don’t care what else is going on,” she says. She has a cell phone but never leaves it on. “You can’t call me. I only call you. I think you have to stop thinking you are at everyone else’s beck and call.” Silence, she adds, is critical. “You cannot complete your thoughts with everything ringing.”
Then my jaw dropped when Ms. Orman let the staffing model of her growing empire slip out:
The remarkable thing is that Orman is a one-woman show. She has no assistant, no permanent employees. “I’m the one who answers every one of my e-mails,” she says. (Usually with a terse yes, no or “done.”) When she hires people to work on a project, she insists they clear their schedules of other jobs: “I’m not saying they can’t multitask, just not on my time,” she explains. “The people who multitask, I think, do everything to mediocrity at best. While they are getting a lot done, they are getting it done in such an inefficient way that they usually have to do it again.” Orman says she never misses a deadline or needs a do-over. “Once I’ve written an article, it is done.”
Any lawyer reading this would quickly see the obstacles to adopting these tactics in the practice of law. Elsewhere in the article, she mentions that she generally does not respond to email or voicemail messages while on the road. Our clients might not like this–on the other hand, if things were being handled properly, they might be impressed. After all, they’d know we weren’t billing portal-to-portal.
But I really admire two things. One is Ms. Orman’s single-minded focus on the current task at hand. I need to carve out some time every day to do this. The only way I have done this recently is to duck into an unused office in a remote corner of my building for a few minutes once a week and scan my project list before I am discovered.
The other thing I admire is the way Ms. Orman responds to emails. Who among us wouldn’t appreciate that sort of response? It would stand out in a world of “reply all” messages that don’t merely transmit or request information. Rather, they are ongoing chronicles of a peron’s work “life story.”
If Suze Orman can find a way to focus despite constant distractions–do I really have an excuse?
I think her response might be: