The Very Rich Are Different From You And Me? Yep, They Don't Need Email

That's probably not what Fitzgerald was talking about. But extreme wealth and power might just be the best email app ever. Apart from, you know, email.

While we set our productivity aspirations upon the ever-elusive inbox zero--and suffocate ourselves in the process--a handful of mind-bendingly powerful executives eschew the inbox altogether, instead making time to dive into piles of money, or take a helicopter to the Hamptons, or whatever the uber-rich love to do (because it isn't email).

Writing for Businessweek, Keenan Mayo compiles a list of curmudgeons, Luddites, and recluses who are too good to communicate like plebeian knowledge workers. We'll add some populist zest.

A brief survey of the unassailably non-emailable

MLB Sith Lord Bud Selig roundly declares that he doesn't use email and he "never will."

Secretary of the department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano never uses email. And her argument for why is something we can relate to:

“I think e-mail just sucks up time,” she told reporters at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I stopped using e-mail when I was attorney general of Arizona. I was like, ‘Why am I spending my time scrolling through this?’”

If we didn't have enough reason to envy the powerful, Napolitano's cutting away of the inbox gives us another arrow in our green-colored quiver: We all spend an insane amount of time on email, and being able to delegate that to somebody else would be nice. In theory.

As the 19th-richest person in the world, Sheldon Anderson would be a disappointment if he didn't have the relationship with technology (and humans) the way you might imagine an early Batman villain to have. Again, this is too good to paraphrase, so here's the quote:


“I don't have a computer. And I don't use e-mails.” In an interview with Casino Enterprise Management, he said, “I have a great person who knows the computer and she reads every single thing that I read. She takes dictation from me the old-fashioned way, and that's the only way I like to dictate.”


Clearly, it's not just when someone's transcribing for him that ol' Sheldon's dictatorial.

What's missing in the missives

We've said before that if you make enough money, people call you eccentric instead of crazy. Clearly all of those above fall in the former.

But why wouldn't you want to give up email? Because perhaps you use it as a (terrible) to-do list. Or, maybe, you enjoy that it's an asynchronous messaging system--one that leaves you free to do your work until you batch your communication.

Hat tip: Businessweek

[Feather Pen: Galushko Sergey via Shutterstock]

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • Brad Patterson @ Kwaga

    Really enjoyed this read, and imagining "real people" and moreover, very successful ones, that don't email is a fun jump from the daily-daily inbox game.

    Email innovation is rampant, though, and if email etiquette or email habits were to follow as closely, I know everyone would be better off.  For all the negative energy the tool generates, it is a tool and it is how it's used that defines it as much as the structure of the tool that it is.  

    Personally, processing (definitely not checking email!) 3-5 times a day for 20-30 minutes works well for me with around 200 emails/day.  Add-ons like rapportive, unrollme, writethatname, boomerang and maibox really have made a difference when compared to only two years ago.  No "one-size fits all", but give the apps a try, go GTD and keep your emails short and everyone'll be a bit happier ;-)