Imagine discovering you possess a very special gift: the ability to know the exact time, at any moment, anywhere in the world. Amazingly, your ability to tell time is more precise than the master clocks at the United States Naval Observatory.
Soon you’re getting calls from the media, businesses, organizations, even governments, wanting your help to accurately set their clocks. You’re featured on the Today Show, Oprah, and in the New York Times. You quickly build a good reputation and charge a premium for your timekeeping service.
Because you are such an extraordinary timekeeper, people call you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and soon you’re making more money than you ever dreamed possible. Although exhausted, you’re having lots of fun with your new found success; getting invited to parties, giving lots of interviews, and occasionally people want your autograph. None of this pays you a penny more, but it feeds your ego and you figure it’s great exposure.
Because of the large amount of time you spend on timekeeping, your family is beginning to feel neglected, so you take them away on vacation. However, while your family is enjoying their time at the beach, clients keep calling. They call first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Because you’re making money, you make excuses why you can’t go on the whale watch, to the luau, or on the hike up the mountain. You find yourself sneaking calls when you’re in the bathroom, you can’t relax at a family meal, and when everyone’s asleep, you lay awake stressed, worried that you’re missing timekeeping revenue opportunities.
Since you’re the only person with this special timekeeping gift, and it’s impossible training someone to replicate your talent, your ability to make money is limited to your availability and stamina. You’re not building equity, beginning to resent your timekeeping gift, and frankly, you’re feeling burned out. Now, you’re a slave to your employer and/or clients, and you’re stuck between making less money, or just running out of steam. Sound familiar? That’s because you are a timekeeper.
But, wait. You have an idea. What if you took your special gift for being an incredible timekeeper and replicated that precision into a unique and perfectly accurate timepiece, a watch? Between client calls, you pull together a team. After sharing your vision, the team goes off and excitedly begins work on the world’s most remarkable timepiece. You work with your team to refine and hone both the design and accuracy of this new timepiece, borrow some money from your friends and family, and meet with possible new customers. The team pulls you aside, informing you proudly that they’ve named this new timepiece after you, and, in fact, have already started the trademark process. Soon you’re ready to launch.
With much fanfare you announce your new timepiece. Although the watch is expensive, you immediately sell out. You make more timepieces; however, this time you alter the design and the product line flops. You try not to panic, go back to the original design, make just a few changes, and thank goodness, these new timepieces are a hit, too. You open a small factory and warehouse; hire more people, including a marketing, operations and finance person, a design team, and a head of quality control.
With a strong word-of-mouth and social media campaign, every timepiece you make sells quickly, and at least 10 celebrities at the Oscars wear your watch while walking the Red Carpet. Both the German and Swiss governments call requesting specially designed clocks for all their rail stations and airports, and the United States Department of Defense announces your technology is going to be the new standard for all military field operations. Your company grows, expands into new markets, and eventually you have operations on every continent. Plus, a major publisher calls and wants you to write the definitive self-help book on time management.
Your family is again making noise about being neglected, and away you go on vacation. However, this time you charter your own private yacht. And even better, you leave your assistant and leadership team with the instructions, “I want no communication with anyone!” While you’re sailing around in the Mediterranean, surrounded by your family and close friends, you realize you’re making more money while you sleep than when you were awake selling timekeeping services. You’ve created hundreds of new jobs, contributed large sums of money to charity and causes, and your company is recognized as one of the best places to work in America. Now you’re a watchmaker.
Timekeeping to Watchmaking
I started my professional career as newspaper photojournalist outside Philadelphia. I went to work, did my job, and got paid. I was a timekeeper.
After the newspaper, I was recruited into radio in Des Moines, IA, and then after a couple of years, I moved into local TV in Kansas City, each time making a little more money than before. Then I got the break of my life, a great job at CBS News, and although I was making a fair living, I was still a timekeeper.
It wasn’t until I left CBS and started my public relations firm, Vorhaus & Company, that I became a watchmaker. Instead of going off and doing PR on my own, I chose to build my own company, to create a sustainable business model and something of value, and in so doing, I created jobs, built careers, and solved our client’s problems while working with some of the smartest people in the business.
Now, I’m finishing my book, One Less, One More™, which is the foundation for a new business that includes One Less, One More daily journals, seminars, executive training, conferences, and more. By shifting my thinking from a timekeeper to a watchmaker, I make money while I sleep, provide jobs and opportunities for countless people, create a culture based on the values of making the planet better than we found it, and find more ways to give back to humanity through time and resource-based initiatives.
I’ve also started Vorhaus You!, a resource for anyone interested in improving their influence and bottom line. Now, instead of being a timekeeper and helping a couple of leaders at a time, we are now watchmakers, helping thousands.
Sure there’s risk to becoming a watchmaker, and no, it’s never easy. But as I advise both my clients and my children, if you’re not following your heart, you’re not on purpose. If you’re not on purpose, it’s really hard to be happy and fulfilled.
There’s nothing wrong with timekeeping, and if you’re following your heart, transitioning to a watchmaker may not resonate for you, and the risk certainly won’t result in reward.
However, if you find yourself longing for more control of your life, want to generate multiple streams of income, and want to make the world a better place according to your belief system, then you may want to consider watchmaking.
Watchmakers to Watch
Over the upcoming months I’ll be introducing you to many extraordinary watchmakers, and would love hearing your story, or the story of an inspiring watchmaker you know. For now, take a moment to meet a few of my favorite watchmakers:
Ann Miura-Ko – Recently named by Forbes as “The Most Powerful Women in Start-ups,” Ann earned her electrical engineering degree at Yale, where she was part of a team teaching robots how to play soccer. Now Ann teaches Entrepreneurship at Stanford, where she also earned her PhD. Together with co-watchmaker, Mike Maples at Floodgate, they now fund and champion new watchmakers, including some companies you’ve heard of like Twitter, Digg and Gowalla.
Candace Connors Vorhaus – My bride trained at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, and Parsons The New School for Design, to earn her degree in Interior Design, stopped working to raise our two kids, and then once our children became teens, went back to school to become a Feng Shui consultant/advisor. Instead of being a timekeeper, as she was as an interior designer, Candace is building a watchkeeping business, supporting successful women to thrive wherever they are planted.
Chris Brogan – Chris is the watchmaker’s watchmaker. I am touched by Chris’ story, his intention to make the world a better place, and his vulnerability and sensitivity. You would do well to know Chris Brogan.
Erik Proulx – Erik transitioned out of timekeeping in advertising to produce and direct the brilliant “Lemonade, The Movie,” and he’s now building the franchise as the writer/director/producer of his new film, “Lemonade: Detroit,” another tour de force.
Kendall SummerHawk – Kendall was a timekeeper designing healthcare software, was working 60-hour weeks. Now, as a watchmaker, she’s built her multi-million coaching business around her life and love of horses.
Leah Busque – Leah was a timekeeping programmer at IBM. One night at dinner in Boston with her husband, Kevin, she came up with the idea of “service networking,” which uses the power of social media to help members get their tasks completed, and founded TaskRabbit. (Disclosure: I proudly serve as TaskRabbit advisor.) Go rabbit, go.
Rusty Shelton – Rusty was a timekeeping book publicist. Now he took the big watchmaking gulp, and started his own public relations and marketing firm, Shelton Interactive. Rusty did a fabulous job as a timekeeper for someone else. Now as a watchmaker based in Austin, TX, Rusty and is team are extraordinary marketeers for some of the best brands in the world.
Are You a Timekeeper or Watchmaker?
Watchmakers never become watchmakers for the money. Sure they may get rich, and some very rich. Other watchmakers may fail, but they don’t give up. That’s because watchmakers follow their heart, not their head. Watchmakers often eliminate the word “no,” like “no, that won’t work,” or “no, you can’t succeed,” replacing it instead with “yes,” like, “yes we can!,” or “yes, let’s try that.”
Watchmakers believe in their heart-of-hearts that timekeeping is no longer an option because they want to create value, make a difference, follow their heart, help others, and build something sustainable. And more importantly, although they may not know it, watchmakers want to make money while they sleep.
So, are you a timekeeper or a watchmaker?
photo credit: REMY SAGLIER - DOUBLERAY