Richie Norton is the author of “Anti-Time Management,” and a Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coach. He is the CEO of Prouduct, an INC. 5000 company. In this episode, Richie opens up about tragedies that changed the way he lives, works, and spends time with his family. Richie describes work-life flexibility in three parts: Ability, Availability, and Autonomy. His message: Don’t defer your dreams.
[2:15] Richie Norton walks his dog on the beach every day. He travels the world and works from his phone.
[2:29] The name of his company, Prouduct, means products you’re proud of. At any given time, they make over 100 products. Besides being an entrepreneur, Richie coaches and consults. He is happily married and has seven children including three fosters. His youngest passed away but would have just turned 13.
[3:50] Years ago, Richie was in Nashville working with the Zig Ziglar team on a project. He got a text from the State of Hawaii that a missile was about to hit his house on Oahu. Then a text that said it was not a test. He called home and finally, his son answered the phone crying, “I love you, Dad.” He thought these were his last moments. It was all a mistake. It shook Richie into thinking about other events.
[5:02] Richie’s brother-in-law, Gavin, his wife’s only brother, had been living with their family. He passed away in his sleep at age 21. Life is short. They started living their lives differently and thinking about time differently. Richie’s fourth son, Gavin, named after his uncle, was born. He had a cough. Doctors said he was fine, but it turned out he had pertussis. In the hospital, he slipped away in his mother’s arms.
[6:25] In thinking of these two tragedies, Richie came up with Gavin’s Law: “Live to Start, Start to Live.”
Take the ideas that press on your mind, and start living them. Too many people push ideas aside claiming they don’t have the education, time, or money to make them happen.
[7:11] Richie worked with Stephen M.R. Covey while in his twenties, training executives. Richie thought he was too young for the job but it wasn’t about his experience, it was about continuous improvement and learning.
[8:05] Richie speaks of some life events. His foster children returned to their biological mother. His wife had a stroke and lost her memory. The business deal that took him to Hawaii fell through. His son got hit crossing the road and was badly injured. He is OK now. His wife got her memory back. Richie was shouldering a lot when he changed his life’s trajectory by putting meaning behind these events.
[9:52] With meaning, Richie was able to keep his faith and continue moving forward. His meaning was in asking himself, “How can I live better, not bitter?” When you get stuck on what happened, ask yourself how to assign positive meaning. Approach your work from the dream, not toward the dream.
[10:57] Covey would say, begin with the end in mind. He didn’t say, to begin with, the means in mind. You can change goals, habits, and strengths, which are all just means to an end. The approach of working from the dream and not endlessly toward it is powerful. You can collapse time. It’s a different way of thinking, living, and working. It’s anti-time management.
[12:54] Richie learned that grief is a tunnel, not a cave. Things happen that impact us and the way we see where we’re going and what we have to look forward to. Richie’s purpose is his family. He wants to create the ability to have availability. Purpose is having character, creating relationships of trust, and being available for his family, and those for whom he needs to be available when they need him most.
[15:48] Richie describes work-life flexibility in three parts: ability, availability, and agility or autonomy. When you look at the world through autonomy, availability, and ability, you can see how free you are to make the choices that you do, including the consequences.
[18:28] You have to value your time, not time your values. You can’t sacrifice what you love for success. When you sacrifice what you love for success, you get neither. Infuse your work with your values or you will get a hollow life with hollow hopes. You can have money and meaning. You’ve got to bake it in from the start.
[21:17] The second industrial revolution in the late 1800s came from the concept of time-motion studies. It is now known as Taylorism or time management. It was designed to control and master every aspect of workers. It takes and squeezes everything out of the worker for as long as possible to the point of breaking. Time management is about who controls how you use your time.
[22:32] Anti-Time Management gives you control over your time. In Time Management, others tell you what to do. In Anti-Time Management, you decide. There is a balance between the two approaches. A full calendar is an empty life. An empty calendar means you’re a leader; it’s been handled.
[25:18] The recent pandemic was the first time in history that everyone was experiencing the same thing at the same time. Technology advanced. Companies and talent started learning what was possible. People started seeing the world in a new way. People started distrusting companies and news outlets more than ever before. Of course, the corporations want everyone to come back in!
[26:38] Can productivity increase working from home? It depends on the situation.
[26:47] The leadership quality of the future that will be the most important leadership quality is discernment. When you have these gaps in data and interpretation, we need leaders and talent who can use discernment to fill them in to decide the direction we’re going to go.
[27:50] Never have the switching costs of moving from one company to another been lower. People change jobs every 4.6 years. The company that supports talent in working for their role in the home is going to be the winner.
[29:02] As soon as flexibility becomes a corporate benefit to the employee, it’s not a benefit to the employee anymore, it’s a longer leash.
[29:56] Discernment comes in asking better questions for better answers. Problems are multi-dimensional. With discernment, you can make decisions that no one else saw. Ask open-ended questions. You can develop discernment. Richie has great mentors and surrounds himself with good people that think differently. It helps to listen to great podcasts like The Leadership Podcast.
[33:23] If a chick doesn’t break out of its egg, it dies. Fear, negative pride, and procrastination are like an eggshell that we must break through to be our authentic selves. If you had no fear, pride, or procrastination, what would you be capable of? How would you feel? What would you do? You would be you. We go around trying to avoid past traumas through our decisions.
[36:10] Richie sees that people have fear at work. In corporations, there is 99% work signaling and 1% working. Jan cites Joel Peterson, former Chairman of JetBlue: “24 hours is more than enough time per day.” Richie talks about having a purpose or reason bigger than your fear. At the end of the day, you get what you want, tragedies aside. You’ve got to be willing to do the work.
[40:17] Richie does not like the retirement mentality. It has destroyed generations of people. He wants people to talk about it, as he does in Anti-Time Management. The retirement mentality is to put off what you want to do until you retire. You can do what you want now and find a way to responsibly support yourself your whole life.
[42:06] Richie talks about the marshmallow test. The original study indicated that a child willing to wait 15 minutes for a larger reward rather than accepting a smaller reward now, would do better in life. But later studies showed that was not true. Richie compares the patient child to the obedient employee, willing to wait for rewards. Waiting is great for some things, but not for everything.
[44:36] Your lifestyle is changed by how you get paid. The way you operate, the way you work, and the way you do things in order to earn, dictate your life. If you can work in a way where more gets done in less time, it will expand your ability to live, create, and be hyper-productive. Consider your purpose, priority, projects, and payments: If your payments can align with your purpose, you’re set.
[45:59] Closing quote: Remember, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” — Carl Sandburg