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‘Face to Face’ Is Their Key to Success

Posted March. 14, 2006 03:37,   


The “human touch” is the secret behind the success of the world’s leading political, economic, and cultural figures. It is interesting that powerful people, who have to make dozens of important decisions everyday, give top priority to human relationships. Instead of relying on convenient technologies like e-mail and mobile phones, they meet people in person, face to face. In addition, many are now enjoying yoga and meditation to preserve their humanity.

The following are examples of “working with a human touch,” as practiced by 10 prominent figures in the latest issue of Fortune magazine.

Hank Paulson, chairman of the international investment bank Goldman Sachs, has never used e-mail. He has deliberately refused to learn how to use it. Instead, he makes 200 phone calls each day to do business. He argues that as much as e-mail is efficient, it reduces the chance to talk to people. U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman Howard Shultz of Starbucks, and music director Winton Marsalis of New York’s Lincoln Center also avoid using e-mail for the same reason.

Marissa Mayor, vice president of Google, opens her office for an hour and a half every afternoon so that anyone who wishes to see her can do so. All you need to do is sign up on the waiting list. She believes that although e-mails and phone calls might be more convenient, personal contacts are the best way to earn trust from employees.

Alan Lafley, the chairman of Proctor and Gamble, has a unique way of working. He makes it a rule to work hard for an hour, and then spend the next 15 minutes to go around the office and chat with employees. He has pink sofas in his office to make the room more inviting and comfortable for employees.

Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, does not have a mobile phone, and he does yoga for an hour and a half everyday. Lafley also takes a 30-minute meditation break each day. Designer Vera Wang conducts business in her bed for hours even during the day. All of them stress that the time they spend to recharge their energy is always precious.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, is busy running two auto companies, but he never brings his work home. The same is true for Jane Friedman, CEO of HarperCollins, because too much work can undermine one’s objective decision-making abilities.

Fortune points out that successful people tend to have the ability to select necessary information rather than drowning in a sea of information. In other words, it is unwise to depend heavily on information technology. Lafley advised that if you want to keep your mind at peace, you should get away from the sea of information.

Mi-Kyung Jung mickey@donga.com