People or Time?

I was brought up in a time when your work and private life were two separate worlds. We had to act one way to cut the grade in our “professional” realm and another where we could just “let our hair down”. Sort of schizoid. Sort of two faced. I couldn’t grasp why behavior had to be switched on and off and why I couldn’t just “be” myself. Then something happened to me which turned this fable on its head.

I moved to Japan. In Japan doing business was quite the social activity. There was a difference in how people valued time and interpersonal relationships compared to what I was used to in the States. In Japan, you could be in a meeting with your colleagues or co-workers and if someone of importance came into your office, whether associate or friend, you’d drop what you were doing mid-stream to meet the guest. Same thing happened in France when I worked there.

Over time, I noticed that in monochromic societies like America, Holland, Germany and Switzerland people valued the clock over all else. In those countries generally speaking, it was more valuable to be on time, meet deadlines, pack in activities from morning till the wee hours of the night, than taking time out to be with others.


Fast forward 2016. Thanks to the breathtaking world view of Millennials we have shifted and a new way of interacting is sweeping America. Millennials are expanding our world view by blurring the lines of work and play, between the professional and private self. There’s a seamlessness to their communication style that encourages one to just be natural —  it is a casual dress code or engagement in a social atmosphere at the office and after hours.

What we see is a personable approach that redefines the meaning of professionalism. Social media has played a huge part in this development by connecting people 24/7. The ‘what can I do for you?’ mentality is a result of this generation’s mindset and aren’t we glad it is!

Perhaps America is now edging towards the polychromic societies of France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan and southeast Asia. Places where people are more important than time. It’s about time, isn’t it?