The Time Bandit Solution: Structured Time & Workflow, by Edward G. Brown (Cohen Brown Picture Company, 2014, Los Angeles, California, 249 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
December 5, 2017 (San Diego) - Edward G. Brown, philanthropist, entrepreneur and noted Hollywood mover and shaker, has written a book that resonates with me for a variety of reasons; The Time Bandit Solution: Structured Time & Workflow. I actually suffer from some of the same Time Bandit issues that he points out in his book. Coming on the heels of my review of his wife Shari Sharifi Brown’s book; The 7 Commandments for Happiness and Prosperity, this author’s book is more than a book about business solutions, but actually gives a portrait of his life and legacy. This is really a capsule of the author’s entire life, weaving his personal experiences into a well thought out book on how to recover your lost time.
It should be noted that The Time Bandit Solution won the 2015 Axiom Business Book Award for operations management, lean, and continuous improvement by Independent Publisher which honors books that help the business community understand changing trends and technologies and point out opportunities in our complicated new economy.
The author wrote this book in the vernacular of “The Sands of Time”, stating: “I write this self-help book to save my own life. Not literally; my death wasn’t imminent. But I was watching precious years, months, days, and hours slip away without being able to accomplish all that I wanted to. I was desperate for more time.” I feel his pain!
Edward G. Brown had no time to write this book, which is exactly why he wrote it. Bronx born and bred, Mr. Brown co-founded with Marty Cohen the #1 firm in culture change management consulting training for the financial services industry, Cohen Brown Management Group, now in 50 countries and 12 languages. Its past and present clients include companies such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Royal Bank of Canada, Metropolitan Life, Kaiser Steel, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and Merrill Lynch. He has personally authored and delivered many of Cohen Brown’s programs. See here.
In his early career, Mr. Brown created and owned one of the largest business management firms in the U.S. for musicians, entertainers, and professionals. He was also a major record producer, a producer of two television specials, and a songwriter, publishing and producing a Record of the Year, winning the Pioneer Publishing Company award for Pink Shoelaces in 1959. Where does he find the time for all these pursuits? But then again, that is what this book is all about, time management!
He shepherded Don Ho to become Hawaii’s all-time greatest performer, with whom he also owned prestigious restaurants and night clubs. Mr. Brown has been a founder of banks and a real estate developer, among many other remarkable endeavors.
Although The Time Bandit Solution is primarily about business solutions, the author does take you down memory lane, with his many achievements and associations in life. It is a rich and historic association, filled with Hollywood stars and musical entertainers, such as Dorothy Lamour, Roy Rogers, Don Ho, Pat Boone, Aretha Franklin and HB Barnum.
Brown further frames the overall premise of this self-help book, by stating: “Then I realized that I already cracked the code for how to create more time. I had been doing it subconsciously at various stressful points in my career. I just hadn’t thought of it that way. And I hadn’t thought of applying the secret to the rest of my life – to making my remaining years more fruitful, less frantic, and more satisfying.”
The attached Cohen Brown Management Group webinar handout puts into further perspective what the author identifies in his book. See attachment here.
Having the opportunity recently at a Thanksgiving dinner at his home in Malibu, to gain invaluable insight into this humble man, and to discuss his book and a myriad of other subjects, I was impressed with his breadth and depth of the subject matter and premise of The Time Bandit Solution.
Brown utilizes a number of photos and illustrations throughout his book to get his point across, and if there is truth to the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, the author has made his point. A prime example is the illustration on page 21, accompanied by the statement: “When management has wrung all the sweat equity it can from the employees, and they are taxed beyond their ability to work well, their work suffers, along with their job satisfaction and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.”
The author uses such terms as “Time Locking” and “Focal Locking” to get his point across in this well designed book. He states in regard to “Time Locking”: “Designate blocks of concentrated work time that you set aside with a ‘Time Lock’ so no one interrupts you. During these periods, you work unimpeded by interruptions. For your time locks to become a reality, your time bandits must agree never to interrupt you during these designated hours. Display a notice on your office door that says; ‘Time Locking – please do not disturb.’”
Brown further states in regard to “Time Locking”: “Suggested time-lock rules include instituting at least one hour of uninterrupted work time daily. Get everyone to agree to honor each other’s time-lock periods, including clients and bosses. Make sure everyone in the organization shares a full understanding of the time-lock concept, its purpose and how it works. For instance, employees cover for colleagues who are in a time-lock. Pay your employees bonuses based on the productivity gains they accrue as a result of time-locking.”
The Time Bandit Solution indicates, through a summary in Success Magazine: “Time, especially in this period of rampant layoffs, is as precious as water in the midst of a drought. They say time is money, and maybe it is – we all know what is meant by that. But time is a lot more than money. It’s how we measure out our lives. Our lifetimes. The time of our lives.”
Further stated in the summary of The Time Bandit Solution in Success Magazine is: “Interruptions steal our time in five insidious ways, which we call the Five-Time-Loss-Related-Factors:
First, Interruptions: Anything that disrupts your workflow, no matter the source, is an interruption. It might come in the form of a colleague asking your opinion. You can take the call, do the research, call the colleague back, convey the answer, and wrap up with various polite phrases. How much time does that whole process take?
Next, Restarts: A restart is the effort involved in getting back to where you left off prior to an interruption. Sometimes it may involve no more than shaking off the interruptions, getting back to the previous frame of mind, recalling the train of thought, and taking up the right tools again. It is the proverbial ‘Now where was I?’ question. But sometimes it takes a much greater effort. Maybe the website you were on timed out. Or the people you were talking to dispersed, or you forgot the idea you were about to record, or the customer walked away. Or the inspiration disappeared. Time and effort are expended to do no more than to get you back where you left off – no added value for all that time and effort.
Then, Momentum Loss: Although harder to quantify than time lost due to restarts, time lost due to loss of momentum is just as insidious. Momentum is what you develop provided you are not interrupted when you are doing repetitive tasks. When professionals lose their rhythm, a little talent seeps away, too. The more we do repetitive tasks without interruption, the more momentum we build. Left uninterrupted our momentum grows and grows, so we get faster and faster and more accurate. And just when momentum brings you to the peak of your efficiency, someone knocks on your door, comes to your desk, or calls you on the phone and says: ‘Hi, I’m your Time Bandit, here to break your momentum. How am I doing?’ After the Time Bandit extracts his or her ounce of time, you return to the original task in the hopes of trying to regain your momentum.
The next big Time-Loss Factor is Do-Overs: Who isn’t more likely to make mistakes when they are thrown off course by interruptions and then struggle to regain momentum? It’s a perfect environment for poor quality and flat-out errors.
Finally, Distress Manifestations: Interruptions create distress, and it shows up in many ways. These manifestations may be subjective, varying significantly from person to person, but they do exist, and they are harmful. The symptoms can vary too, mental fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration, reduced efficiency, and reduced productivity.” See Success Magazine summary attached.
If anyone should understand what Brown is trying to convey in his book, I should, for as a writer and book reviewer for the East County Magazine in San Diego, and having written more than 200 book reviews, I find myself being besieged with book review requests from all over the world – sometimes juggling two book reviews almost simultaneously as in the instant case of Donna Brazile’s Hacks and Edward G. Brown’s The Time Bandit Solution. I actually do have to find that “Quiet Time” that Brown speaks of in his book to keep my sanity, and do the review justice.
Perhaps most revealing about the character and perseverance of the author, is the photo of his mother Rachel and sister Rhoda, taken with him on the day of a life-changing and defining accident when he was five years old in 1941, on page 61. Brown and I actually had a discussion about this accident during the course of my being a guest at his home recently on Thanksgiving.
The premise of Brown’s book is that “we are all guilty of stealing time from those around us by interrupting them when they are trying to get something done.” Brown specifically states, and gives examples throughout this book that; “You are somebody’s Time Bandit. We all are.” When I am attempting to complete a very important book review, and someone calls and interrupts the flow, I consider them Time Bandits. I am sure I have done the same to others. Brown’s book teaches and advises as to how to avoid this pitfall, which can be counterproductive, and to do it in a respectful way.
Brown devotes a chapter on what he calls “Time Loss Interruption Solutions”, by stating: “In the Time Loss Interruptions Solutions section, you will learn how to gain control over those unwanted interruptions by gracefully training and negotiating with the Time Bandits who unwittingly steal your time.”
It is in this chapter that Brown introduces us to a HB Barnum, who would become a lifelong friend and business partner. In my aforementioned Thanksgiving meeting and dinner with Brown, he spoke effusively of HB Barnum, referring to him as “a brother from another mother.” That vernacular actually gave me an insight and appreciation of this man, who has accomplished so much in life.
Significant in this book, is Brown stating in this very same chapter on “Time Loss Interruption Solutions”: “Before I hit 30, partially sighted or totally blind, I will be a successful man,”
Brown further stated: “I kept that vow. Early on, I finagled meetings with all the right people – the right artists, musicians, managers, producers, and so on, turning their talents to my benefit and theirs. There came a day when I had a huge fish on the line. I was in a bidding war for the Johnson Brothers, two songwriters who I knew could make me and themselves a fortune. My competitor was an established music industry genius, HB Barnum, who besides having an extraordinary eye for talent could play every instrument in the orchestra. Secretly impressed, I forgot all about the Johnson Brothers and fell in love with HB, and we are partners to this day (and currently co-producing a rock opera).” Brown invited me to attend the debut of this opera at USC in January, during discussions while having Thanksgiving dinner at his home with his wife Shari and their family. See attached OhAtlantis book here.
Brown states in The Time Bandit that he was only 22 years old when his collaboration with HB Barnum of a Dodie Stevens’ song, Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, became the Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) “Record of the Year.” Click here to listen to the song.
Obviously, the author of this book had to apply the demonstrated techniques of The Time Bandit to achieve the success that he has had throughout life, in business and other pursuits.
Chapter 10 of this well-written and insightful book is perhaps most informative, as it introduces the reader to “Energy Vampires”, which states: “Energy vampires come in different packages. Most have a negative bent, incessantly warning you that your hard work won’t be appreciated, or complaining about the deadline, the tools, the pay, or the client, or citing only obstacles, never pathways.”
This book is instructive and educational, a book that I highly recommend for so many reasons.
Dennis Moore has been the Associated Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and he is the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, along with being a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.