Would you rather have a lot of stuff or a lot of time?


time management

I have this exceedingly cool friend.  He’s young, bright, handsome and hip. In other words … everything I am not. So, I live vicariously through him as much as I can.

This week my young hip friend posted this thought on Facebook:  “For me, the new American dream isn’t about having a lot of stuff — it’s about having a lot of time.”

He made my wheels turn, as he does so often.

There is one commodity in this world that makes us all excruciatingly equal. Time. Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, we all have exactly the same amount. No matter how hard we work, we can never get more.

The true commodity is “spare” time, or leisure time, and I don’t think this is a function of getting more gadgets or time-saving devices. It’s a matter of choice, isn’t it?

About 15 years, ago, my hard-charging company moved several divisions to the Southeastern U.S., which is known for a slower pace of life. I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I have lived in the north and the south for roughly equal amounts of time and I have enough data points to declare that there is a greater appreciation for leisure  — in general — in the South.

Can’t get by on two

Our division president, who had a tightly-wound Northeastern disposition, had hired some folks to do landscaping for his yard. They would show up, do good work, and then disappear for several days.  This drove my boss crazy. Finally he could stand it no longer and confronted the worker. “Where do you go on all these days when you disappear?” He asked.

“Fishing.” The worker replied proudly.

“Fishing?” my boss queried.  “Well, why are you only working three days a week?” he asked.

“Because I can’t get by on two,” the worker explained.

Now both of these gentlemen have the exact same amount of time in every day.  But they make radically different decisions about how to spend it.

This is entirely up to you

I always think of this story when people complain about how much pressure they are under and how stressed they are about the time-sucking jobs or social media platforms they are tethered to.

In the end, it’s a choice, isn’t it?

How many times are you going to blog each week versus spending time with your kids?

Do you really need to be active on five social platforms? Six? Seven?

One choice I have made is to not blow it out on Google Plus. Something has to give. It gets down to this.  I love so many other things in life more than Google Plus and it’s just not serving my needs any better than any other platform I’m using right now. I’ll dip in now and then. But I can’t commit.

So, I’m not one of the cool kids. But I’m happy because it allows me to do things that I enjoy more, including compose great content for you.

Having time to do the things you want to do has as much to do with courage as it does with being organized. You have to be able to say “no.”  You have to be able to stick to a vision. That is really hard to do, especially if you hate to disappoint people, like me.

I think it is really that simple. You, and only you, not a life coach, not a self-help guru, not your spouse, has to make a steely-eyed decision about money, time and priorities.  You always have a choice. You can always go fishing. Right?

We all have enough time. In fact, we’re all given exactly enough.  But do we have the wisdom to use it in a way that makes us joyful?

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Freaky Thursday: Jim Bankoff would rather be Marissa Mayer than Tim Armstrong



Lucky for Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff, business is good. For a somewhat new media company, it has several successful branches — the Verge, Eater, Curbed, SB Nation. While Bankoff once held a high ranking position at a legacy Web company (AOL), he seems content working with a newer, fresher brand.

But what if he weren’t at Vox, where would he rather be? Tonight, Sarah Lacy, at PandoMonthly in New York, asked whose shoes he’d rather be in, Tim Armstrong’s or Marissa Mayer’s. His response, which he pondered for a few seconds with wide unblinking eyes, was Mayer’s.

Bankoff himself is an alum of the former AOL empire, and back in those days, he worked as EVP of programming and products. He witnessed firsthand the difficult impasse of bridging old Web 1.0 companies to the landscape of broadband internet and websites post dot com crash.

Companies whose business was premised on a dialup ISP business plan invariably saw troubles. “Once a brand starts to decline, particularly for structural issues like a dialup ISP business, [it] is a very hard, if not impossible, thing to turn around,” he said. For AOL, the dialup infrastructure it championed was being eclipsed by an ever evolving business, and faster speeds, thanks to broadband.

So, in Bankoff’s estimation, AOL’s problems aren’t necessarily Armstrong’s fault. “I think AOL struggles fundamentally,” he said diplomatically.

He points to a perfect storm of business problems. There was the moving away from dialup, the AOL-Time Warner fiasco that almost bankrupted the two, and the $ 850 million boondoggle known as Bebo. These predate Armstrong and represented “over a billion dollars in blown capital,” Bankoff said. And, as he told Lacy, it’s hard for companies to respond after undergoing from the worst merger in history then blowing a billion bucks.

For Armstrong, “this is just that hand that [he’s] been dealt.” At the same time, though, Armstrong bet (and lost big) on Patch. Another hit to the company’s bottom line.

Mayer, on the other hand, had similar but less catastrophic problems at Yahoo. Yes, it was an early web company adapting to the new New Media, but she didn’t have to deal with a catastrophic merger and initial blown capital. And it definitely wasn’t built on a dying business structure. Between the two, Mayer was dealt the better hand.

“Marissa is doing a lot of innovative things to set Yahoo on a new growth course,” Bankoff said. So, he’d choose her stilettos over Armstrong’s Nike’s.

At the same time, Vox is probably a better bet of the three. And Bankoff, I’m sure, agrees.