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Talking Business with Tony Iannelli: Communications revolution a double-edged sword

The communication revolution of the last 10 years gives businesses and their employees almost unlimited access to information but also may contribute to burnout, the author asserts. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
The communication revolution of the last 10 years gives businesses and their employees almost unlimited access to information but also may contribute to burnout, the author asserts. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Tony Iannelli
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One consequence of smartphones is the amount of news we can get hourly. You can spend hours on your phone finding news and information 24/7. Now, we get notifications on our watches and cellphones when any significant event occurs, even a not-so-major event.  The good news is we know what’s going on at all times; the bad news is we know what’s going on at all times.

Use to be that you got your news when the paper arrived on your doorstep. That paper was usually delivered early in the morning by a trusted neighborhood kid whose family you almost always knew. It was such a comforting feeling when you opened the door to find the paper on your porch lying next to an insulated storage box full of fresh, glass bottled milk (chocolate for me, please) delivered in the wee hours of the morning by the “all is good in the world” milkman.

We all now live and work in the fast lane compared to back then. Expectations are high, pressure is sometimes unbearable and constant adaptation is necessary. It’s exciting, but sometimes, we miss life in the slow lane. Quiet time to think and alone time to dream —   well, that’s hard to find.

I can remember during my early real estate days, I’d leave the office and be totally out of touch. No cellphone back then. When you returned to the office a stack full of orange “while you were out” memos to tell you who called and a brief reason for the call. My then incredible boss, Charlie Patt, taught me to make the dreaded most challenging call first, and the rest of the day was a breeze.

I recall several occasions while in my car when I wanted to relay information back to the office. That meant I had to find a payphone. By the way, the varied quality of payphones then ran the gamut. There were some well-worn, dirty, glass-enclosed, overused phone booths. By today’s germaphobe standards, you wouldn’t come within 100 yards of them, grab the handheld receiver and make a call.

And then there were the high-end all-wood payphones you’d find in places like hotel lobbies. Once you got in and closed the door, you felt like you had your own private office, and I never wanted to leave the luxurious solitude.

I am writing all this to point out what I think is the paradox in today’s world. While so many things are much easier and we live almost lavishly by past standards, the overload of information and communication has made life challenging.

I see more and more athletes and executives leaving their professions with a hint of burnout. So many people have just had enough. Last week, Lexi Thompson, a fantastic LPGA golfer, announced that she’ll be leaving the sport. In a tearful press conference, it was clear the pressure finally got to her, but more telling was when she said, “Words hurt.” Things people write on social media can have a substantial negative emotional impact on good people.

I think in contrast to the stories recently of veterans of World War II visiting Normandy. Most of these veterans speak in the most humble of terms and seem to block out any reference to anxiety. They humbly refer to the fight they took on and were victorious. I can’t imagine what’s going through your mind knowing when the door opens; you’re gonna charge a beach and run face-first into a hail of bullets. What it must feel like learning today may be the last day of your life.

Maybe there’s a big difference between heroics of a time and a constant barrage of pressures, even in the most comfortable of environments. I guess what’s most important is what goes on between the two ears of an individual. I stay out of social media because I know what goes on between my two ears, and it’s way too busy without hurtful outside interference.

So here’s my point: Most of us have to lead in some way. We have to lead our family, our coworkers, a prayer group, or some mutual interest initiative. Whatever the challenge, with leadership, comes expectation, and like a fine-tuned champion athlete, you can only perform when you’re not only well prepared but fully rested.

So here’s a reminder as the beauty of summer comes upon us to take stock in the solitude of mowing your lawn, taking a walk in the park, playing a round of golf or cruising the back roads on your bicycle. Take the time, you deserve it.

Rejuvenate yourself both physically and mentally. Because the world needs good people today. It needs kind, loving, yet strong, determined leadership. I’m blessed in my job to have met so many Lehigh Valley leaders, and I find most have enough self-awareness to know when it’s time to take care of you.

So here’s to a beautiful warm, active, fun-filled summer. And here’s to hoping you all agree that this summer, while you’re accomplishing much, you’ll take care of yourself because a healthy you, both mentally and physically, can only make this valley and this world a better place.

As the famous quote attributed to several different authors says, “sometimes relaxing is most important to do when you don’t have time for it.”

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