Taking Time to Think

THINK signs rendered in a variety of languages for display by IBM employees from around the world.

Bless the Buffett Buffet of Business Common Sense

What single word powered IBM to become a great high-tech global conglomerate that changed how business was done and wars were fought?


From the IBM Web site:
THINK was a one-word slogan developed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. It appeared in IBM offices, plants and company publications in the 1920s and in the early 1930s began to take precedence over other slogans in IBM. It eventually appeared in wood, stone and bronze, and was published in company newspapers, magazines, calendars, photographs, medallions—even New Yorker cartoons—and it remained for years the name of IBM’s employee publication. You can still find echoes of Watson’s motto in the brand name of IBM’s popular notebook computers: the ThinkPad.

When I read that two of Chicago’s premier lunch clubs were going out of business, I winced.

This came on the heels of the announcement last April that the New York Stock Exchange Luncheon Club—founded in 1898—was folding. With its paneled walls, marble floors and chandeliers, it was, in the words of retired Bear Stearns Managing Director Peter Dully, “the grandest of places for people in business.”

For decades, the private lunch club provided a very pleasant break in the day—a chance for movers and shakers to get out of the pressure cooker and leisurely chew over ideas with colleagues while chewing on a chop, or perhaps dine alone and have some private time to think.

I get the sense that in recent years the world of business has gotten so frantic that decisions are made before all of the consequences are carefully thought through. Think GM, Ford, Airbus, AOL, Merck and Enron.

What triggered this story—beyond the closing of a couple of lunch clubs—is a current study about a growing coterie of high-earning corporate men and women. Their middle name is BlackBerry. They’re so consumed with their jobs that they put in 80 to 120 hours a week or more, take no vacations, are constantly sleep deprived and frequently lurch around, gaga with jetlag.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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