David Ogilvy, one of the legends of the advertising agency business, was known for his extraordinary efficiency. I once read that he would often call a client and set an appointment for eight or twelve or twenty-one minutes of time. When the meeting started, he would place his watch on the table in front of him and finish his presentation at exactly the predetermined time. It was a dramatic and unique way to demonstrate how much he valued time.
Time is one of our most precious commodities. Once this moment is gone, it is gone forever. The best business people – the best sales people – have genuine respect for the other person’s time.
I remember hearing stories about a particular ad manager who could have learned some time management lessons from Ogilvy. She was a notorious time thief.
One of the sales people who worked in her department told me about the time she was supposed to join him in a meeting with a prospective advertiser. “It was going to take about thirty minutes to drive there,” he said. “Like we had planned, I dropped by her office forty minutes before the appointment, because that would give us a good cushion of time to arrive early. She was working at her computer and said, ‘I’ll be ready as soon as I finish this email.’ That took about twenty minutes and put us way behind schedule. Then she stopped in the break room to fill up her fancy stainless steel coffee mug before we left. By the time we got to the prospect’s office, he had been waiting for us for half an hour. I was not surprised when he didn’t buy any advertising.
“That was her pattern of behavior,” he explained. “Everyone on the staff dreaded going to appointments with her. But the bad news didn’t stop with that. When she announced a team meeting, we never knew when she would show up. We’d have to wait there in the conference room, all the time knowing that she was trying to write one more email or make one more phone call before meeting with us. And she never made adjustments to make up for lost time, which threw all of our schedules out of whack for the rest of the day. The irony was that she would make sarcastic and critical remarks if others were late. She showed zero respect for anyone else’s time, which we saw as a sign that she couldn’t care less about other people. We felt like throwing a party when she left the paper to take a job in another industry.”
There we have it: two extreme examples from the advertising business. One from a legendary figure with an exaggerated respect for time. And one from someone whose poor time management skills had a negative impact on everyone around her.
The point of all this is simple: Start on time, stay on track, end on time. Do that and things will run a lot smoother.
(c) Copyright 2018 by John Foust. All rights reserved.