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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Time Is On Your Side If You Want It
By Paul Tomori
Monday, October 05, 2009 at 17:19:33 (EDT)

When I met my wife, I went from being on time plus or minus 60 minutes (generally plus 60 minutes... i.e. usually late) to being on time plus or minus 15 minutes (still pushing more toward being late than being early). From there, a few well-stated reprimands brought me down to within 10 minutes of being punctual. Having children has forced me to improve further to plus or minus 5 minutes (sometimes even on the early side). Admittedly, I still push the limits a bit with family stuff (they are the most forgiving!), but business meetings are almost religiously on time. It's a great achievement after 40 years of living on "Tomori time" as some of my dearest friends affectionately (translation: begrudgingly) called it.

Really, I tried hard, but I am a very focussed (i.e. translation: distracted) person. That is, I tend to obsess and focus with blind oblivion to time when I am on task (i.e. I get distracted from other responsibilities).

I am fully aware that lateness is TOTALLY disrespectful to the person waiting for my arrival.

In my business meetings, I am now generally 10 - 15 minutes early and it makes me proud... and of course hugely indignant toward anyone who dares be one minute past the ascribed meeting time. Yes, the kettle now calls the pot black. But, I am a reformed kettle.

What can I say? My flaws are numerous. I have always perceived or at least hoped that my virtues have kept a short one or two step lead on my flaws, and that has been my redemption over the years.

In my personal life, I have come to realize and to devour as my personal philosophy that we are all mostly in control of our destinies. Barring strange accidents and uninvited disease, which are long-term consequential and dramatic and rare, our days are filled with a thousand small decisions that we alone are in control of.

In that sense, I have concluded that "no one takes advantage of you without your permission".

You see, my wife was the first person I met who effectively communicated to me that I did not have her permission to exploit and disrespect her time by being consistently late.

I think there is nary a difference between personal life and business life when it comes to punctuality. In either venue, being on time is an admirable virtue.

Is someone chronically late for you or disrespectful of your time? Does someone set expectations of you that are unreasonable and impossible to fulfill? It's your fault. You let them. Take them to the wall. Or better yet, find a way to not tolerate their "bad behaviour". Do not give them permission by being too forgiving. Don't hold up the meeting for laggards. Don't indulge them if they cry foul that they missed important discussions because of their lateness. Don't "bring them up to speed" as the well-fitted pun suggests.

It could be something as simple as actually saying:

"No, it's not ok that you're late."


"Was it your intention to offend us by being so late? You have disrespected my time - in the future, show some courtesy".

I had a few such wake-up calls in my life and they were hugely impactful... in a positive way. One day, I may just be perfect. Ok, that's pushing it.

Last week, I was the abused... the exploited... It wasn't a punctuality issue, but it was time-related and in the same vein. An otherwise valued client made an absurd request at 4:30 for something that would take at least 3 hours to complete... and that they wanted done that day. The support material they supplied was full of flaws and when I pointed this out and suggested they make some corrections, they had the gall to state that they had already spent 6 hours on it and that was all THEY were going to spend (implication: Paul it's your turn to suffer through it!) In the past, perhaps, I let people take advantage of me by my own permission by actually caving to such poor planning. Perhaps, I allowed myself to be victim too many times. Fortunately, I can bill for such abuses, though that does not minimize the disrespectfulness of the people involved.

Well, I don't always take my own advice so consistently and I acted from a well-rehearsed routine. You see... that the same client called again at 5:15, just 5 minutes before I was to leave and I actually accepted the call (dumb). They then proceeded on a monologue describing everything they needed "that night"... AND they even put me on hold for 10 minutes while they engaged another supplier in a conference call "to help iron out some related issues". Can you believe it? I didn't even leave til 5:45 and I was supposed to (at that time) be already halfway through family dinner... at home.

The nerve of some people, eh?


The nerve of myself. I LET them take advantage of me. As I left the building, I scolded myself mercilessly chiding that I had let myself down by taking the call. I merely should have taken control of the conversation and stated simply that my prior commitments precluded me from speaking further or even entertaining the thought of working on their project that evening... OR I should have ignored the call completely and sent an email advising that their request was not possible that evening, but that I would be happy to make it a priority in the morning.

When it was all said in done, the work didn't get done til the next day anyway, because 2 other suppliers upon whose work ours was contingent had some delays of their own.

Time gets ya every time. If you don't respect your own time. If you don't respect the time of other people, you will not obtain the cooperation needed to happily execute your lofty (or trivial) plans.

To conclude... don't get angry the next time someone disrespects your time. At least, don't get angry at them... Scold yourself.

Remember, no one takes advantage of your time without your permission...

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