How wealthy are you?

For reasons still to be understood, the wrist-watch industry refuses to die. In fact, the business is doing more than ticking over. Movement, be it mechanical or quartz, continues to be youthfully energetic.  The global watch grew by nearly 20% in 2010, and is expected to be reach $45bn in value by 2017. Exports of Swiss watches reached $21bn in the first 11 months of 2012 (source:WSJ)

Claims that these modestly accurate time-keepers will be supplanted by the omnipresent, ever-accurate smartphone have not been fulfilled. One, it seems, does not replace the other, and the young Italian male provides proof. The country holds the European record for per capita mobile phone ownership with the average 18-27 year old male owning (at least) 2 mobile phones. This segment is also the largest per capita European consumer of large face (> 40mm) mid-range wrist watches. 

It seems the hunger for bigger watches at higher prices is still to be satiated.

In contrast to the current trend, I am a cautious buyer of watches. Eroded lugs or ill-fitting straps resulted in too many of my watches finding eternal peace on the coastal floor of UK inshore waters. If you pile those memories on top of my present lifestyle of heavy travel and some physical activity, it is natural for me to be wary  of investing in a watch that is both highly priced and heavily branded. So when the requirement for a new watch arose, my trusted advisors suggested a Seiko 007 (pictured). Robust and resilient without being a ‘mugger magnet.’

But if I am cautious buyer of watches, I have become an even more cautious vendor of time.

In recent years I have come to acknowledge that real wealth is the ability to decide on what to do with your time. After all, you can always make more money, but you can never make more time.

This perspective also has practical implications. My clients want to generate more value, more quickly and at lower labour intensity—and I want to do the same.  We all have other things we wish to do, and making a big difference in less time and with less effort allows us to do this.

And for that reason I never sell units of time. If I charged by the hour, day or the week, it would be in my interest to delay value generation for the client.  The longer the job takes, the more I earn.  From this perspective, daily rate schedules verge on the unethical, but it’s stunning how many Purchasing Departments still insist on the method of fee calculation. 

Sadly this mindset is a chronic condition at senior levels. Too often I have seen senior executives mistakenly correlate value generated with volume (of hours) in the office or on the road.  This cause-and-effect might be relevant for piece work, but not in the resolution of complex problems.

What benefit are we to our family if we’re never able to be with them? What’s the point of money in the bank if we’ve no time to spend the rewards of our endeavours on ourself, family and friends?

If control over calendar and not your bank account were used to record your riches, how wealthy would you be?

Simon LuntComment