FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Daniel W: Welcome to the American Small Business Institute, I’m Daniel Whittington, I’m back with Steve Thomas. I heard you got complimented on your voice mail.
Steve Thomas: I did.
Daniel W: That’s never happened to me.
Steve Thomas: Well, maybe you need to be more honest on your voicemail. Because-
Steve Thomas: Here’s the thing, I’m good at a few things.
Daniel W: Okay.
Steve Thomas: Right. I am not good at voicemail.
Daniel W: Yeah, me either.
Steve Thomas: It’s not complicated. I mean, I know the buttons to push, the technology is not hard. I just when I see-
Daniel W: It’s just the motivation to act that’s the problem.
Steve Thomas: But I see this voicemail from these people-
Daniel W: I’ve got a host like that and my mom is at the top of it.
Steve Thomas: Oh, that’s bad. You need to call her back. One of the things I realized is that when I happen to get a voicemail, I sometimes get voicemails from people who say to me, “Hey, it’s Daniel, call me back.” Could have given me a little … Okay, so my voicemail says something like, “Sorry, I couldn’t take your call.” … I’m not good at voicemail, and so, don’t leave me a voicemail, because I’m really not going to listen to it.
Steve Thomas: You had this number, text me. He’s my email address, email me. I literally had a client who did try to leave me a voicemail. And he said … I loved … He emailed me. Used the email address that I’d given him, which is not the main email address. And said, ” I wish had the courage to do your voicemail.”
Steve Thomas: Here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but I get calls on my cellphones that are from people I don’t know who is pretending to people I know. I get emails from people who are scrubbing LinkedIn and a variety of other places and emailing me as they know me.
Steve Thomas: I pretty much … I’m constantly filtering everything in my life. One of the … And in fact, this is hilarious, I’m getting a spam call as we speak.
Daniel W: Actually says, “AT&T alert spam risk, incoming call.”
Steve Thomas: We all … If you were somebody, and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t fit in this category. If you were anyone whose time is valuable, anybody who’s trying to think for a living, create for a living, service customers for a living, do something technical for a living. Do anything for a living. You really have to not allow someone else to get into your time and adjust your time.
Steve Thomas: Do you love the people who say, “Hey, can I interrupt you for a minute?” Well, you just have by asking me so don’t do that.
Daniel W: We’ve already stopped, so go ahead.
Steve Thomas: Yeah, might as well. The statistics are extraordinary on how hard interruptions are in life. My voicemail is just one of a group of things I do to not let people who don’t have permission, intrude in my life.
Daniel W: Because right now every new piece of technology that seem to be out the door is another gateway for an … Making it easier to get interrupted. Hey, we can get you interrupted in your car.
Steve Thomas: Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Daniel W: your phones.
Steve Thomas: Yes, it would be great, so that you don’t have a chance to think.
Daniel W: At all.
Steve Thomas: At all. It’s fascinating to me to think about that in the industrial age, we began thinking like machines. We began talking about these are clockwork kinds of thing. That we began tracking time. We began using metaphors that came out of the industrial age.
Steve Thomas: And now is we are in an entirely different age. We’re pretending to be digital machines. The one thing humans are horrible at is multitasking. Yet, we think the smartest, best people are multitaskers or we get suckered into thinking we’re at a multitasking kind of a situation.
Steve Thomas: I was speaking at an event in California a few years ago and because I was speaking, I was sitting at the back table. It wasn’t one of those things, I was the bring him up guy.
Steve Thomas: This is sort of like the kid’s table at an event, right. I’m sitting there and you know, the audio guy is sitting there, and so the variety of us. A couple of latecomers, there were no seats, came to sit and I was sitting next to this woman, who was an exec at a tech company that will not be named.
Steve Thomas: This is about 8:00 o’clock at night on a Friday night. We sit down, I had myself upside down, I had my notes. She puts her cellphone down over here and it starts going … And so she picks it up, looks at it. Her phone vibrated constantly as she was getting texts.
Steve Thomas: And I said, “Wow, stuff going on at the office.” And she said, “no, it’s just our culture.” And I said,
“servers down.” I can see this smoke coming out of buildings and things, and she’s like, no. And she worked in a very … I would say, a very … She was like just below sea level, in a very none critical kind of function.
Steve Thomas: Servers weren’t going down, no one is jumping off a building. And I just said, “what’s going on?” She said, “That’s just our culture. We just, you know.” And then she said, “You just have to respond constantly.”
Daniel W: That’s a heavy expectation.
Steve Thomas: And I wanted to throw up at a trashcan. Because it’s like, that’s a horrible experience. One of the things you have to do is be ruthless about your time. You’re probably ruthless about money. You probably will always be able to make more money. Not going to make any more time. You know this. Here’s the other part is, you’ll never be able to get energy back. You create it for the future. But this energy for right now is all you’ve got. So if you’re exhausted, you’re exhausted right now. You can rebuild it. Like, you make more money.
Daniel W: This moment is gone.
Steve Thomas: But right now is gone. And what’s worse is that thought is gone. We as people, as humans, are really good at some things. We will never be good at multitasking. We think about machines as being wonderful. Computers are wonderful. These things are wonderful. They can multitask, we can not. The studies are constant.
Steve Thomas: One of the things I do is I don’t multitask. I’m just not that guy. Don’t try to, don’t pretend to. Don’t act like it, don’t tolerate interruptions. Now I just schedule time in my day where I’m scheduled for … this is when I interact with team, this is when I’m answering emails, this is when I’m doing a bunch of stuff.
Steve Thomas: But a lot of us deal with creative. A lot of us have to plan. A lot of us have to think very carefully about what we’re delivering, and so someone walks in and goes, “Can I interrupt you?” You have. That’s both your fault, but more, it’s my fault for you to not closing the door or helping everybody have an understanding. It’s not a time I need you to walk on me.
Steve Thomas: My cellphone is just one of the … It’s kind of like force field. These are one of the barriers I have. Because it becomes friction. I’m just talking about being honest with people and saying, I’m really not reachable this way or at this time. Because it’s your energy, it’s your time, it’s your lost opportunity to create, to develop, to do something, to play by letting anybody leak into your life.
Steve Thomas: There are people who are in jobs where that’s …. Like that poor woman, I sat next to at the banquet. She was in a job in a culture that expected her to respond. Candidly, I had no idea what to do with that, that’s their problem.
Steve Thomas: If you can control anything, you control it, you set your limits, you put boundaries in place. The only people who will be upset with your boundaries are the people who really want to intrude on your boundaries.
Daniel W: I think that’s perfect. Thank you sir.
Steve Thomas: My pleasure.
Daniel W: We’ll see you guys next week.