Is it Still Important to be Punctual?

Last May 2011, President Obama kept TV hosts and viewers around the world waiting for his major speech on Middle East and North Africa foreign policy by more than a half hour.  Recently, while the stock market was dropping precipitously, he did it again.  This time we waited about 40 minutes for him to appear.


Why does our president have a problem being punctual?  Is it a lack of respect for others?  Is it a power play?  “Controlling information tends to make the person who controls it seem indispensable — and the indispensability game, though risky in the long run, is an excellent secondary move in acquiring and holding power,” wrote Michael Korda, in his classic book “Power.”Whatever the reason, punctuality is a virtue. Ironically, as President Obama is fond of saying lately, “Unlike terrorism, earthquakes, and other external events, this is something we can control.”  Well, it occurs to me that arriving on time for a speech is something he can control.  Moreover, as the leader of our nation, it sets the proper example for all citizens and demonstrates that he should be taken seriously.


When my son was in the eighth grade, he agreed to meet me outside of the shopping mall at 7:30PM.   He was having a good time socializing with friends and I was picking him up afterwards to come home.  Well, he arrived outside at 7:50 and I was furious!  I told him that it was an insult to keep me waiting for 20 minutes because I was doing him a favor by picking him up.  He apologized profusely, is now 32 years old and has never been late for a meeting with me since!


In my son’s case, I felt his lack of punctuality illustrated a lack of respect and appreciation for me.  In President Obama’s case, I’m not sure what the reason is: maybe a power play, maybe he doesn’t care about others, maybe he feels he is so important that being on time doesn’t matter.  You decide…


Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned product publicist, marketer, entrepreneur, and innovator who has been featured in articles that have appeared in INC Magazine, Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Middlesex News, and San Francisco Chronicle. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many Rotary Clubs and other business and civic groups, and been guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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