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Do You Really Need Your Cell Phone?


A couple of weeks ago, my beautiful wife Michele and I flew to New York to attend a marketing event and enjoy a week-long visit with my Mom.

When we arrived at the airport and were just about to get out of the cab, I realized that I didn’t have my cell phone with me.

Panic ensued, as Michele and I searched through both of my bags and the pockets of my hoodie over and over.

But we didn’t find my cell phone.

Now I had a decision to make: Make the trip anyway, or head back home to retrieve my phone and then return to the airport (fortunately, we had left early enough, so it would be possible to pull off the ol’ to-the-airport/back-home/back-to-the-airport maneuver in time to still make our flight).

While I went through the decision-making process out loud, our cab driver proclaimed his disbelief that I would even consider traveling without my cell phone, telling me “You can’t go anywhere without your phone. Our phone is a part of us.”

(*A skeptic would say that he was simply motivated by the possibility of the triple fare and tip, but I’m convinced that he really believed what he was saying.)

That statement almost made me decide to travel without my phone – just to prove the cabbie wrong.

But instead, I chose to head back home and retrieve it, just in case I could figure out a use for it while on my week-long trip.

Regardless of that decision, in the grand scheme of things I feel that our cell phones are most certainly NOT a part of us.


  • Doesn’t anyone remember just seven years ago, when no one carried around a phone, camera, video camera, video editor, radio, calculator, voice recorder, atlas, compass, alarm clock, calendar, computer, library, newsstand, typewriter, GPS, notebook, video game center and who-knows-what-else in their pocket at all times?

  • …when couples actually dined in fancy restaurants while gazing into each other’s eyes, instead of staring at their Facebook accounts and carrying on multiple text message conversations all night?

  • …when you could go to a movie or seminar without having to listen to snippets of obnoxious pop songs suddenly erupting from people’s pants at random times?

The average American can’t imagine life without his or her cell phone glued to his or her hip 24/7. But is a cell phone really a “necessity?”

Let’s see…

  • Less than 15% of people in the world own smartphones (and only about 25% of Americans).

  • Some of the world’s most successful people refuse to use even the most basic cell phones, including Warren Buffett, Elton John and the owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and former richest person in Russia, Mikhail Prokhorov.

  • North Korea’s government recently concluded that cell phones are “threatening the safety of the country,” prompting them to put severe restrictions on their use.

In other words, it’s quite possible to be a human being and not NEED to have a cell phone with you at all times.

As actor Vince Vaughn says, “I don’t own a cell phone because…the old way always worked for me. You call me, I call you back, like a gentleman.” He has publicly proclaimed his distaste for the very idea that people could get in touch with him whenever they wanted to if he carried a cell phone.

I agree with him 100%.

As a successful business leader known as “The King Of Implementation,” there is no doubt that I would get MUCH less accomplished if I were to allow myself to get addicted to my cell phone – or even to turn it on more than once in a while.

My clients count on me to produce prodigious amounts of progress towards profitable projects – NOT to be able to type 140 characters a minute with just my thumbs in instant response to incessant interruptions.

Oh, and by the way…

Ironically, I just happened to have had my cellphone on me during that entire airport cab ride. I had absent-mindedly slipped it into one of the many pockets of a new pair of shorts that I had never before worn outside of the house – something I discovered only after I directed the driver to take us back home so we could search our home from top to bottom in vain while the cab waited outside and our flight inched perilously closer and closer to its imminent departure time.

So, what do YOU think?

Are our cell phones “a part of us?” Do you believe you can’t go anywhere without your cell phone? Or do you purposely make yourself less easily accessible, so you can get more accomplished with less interruptions?

Please post your response in a comment below.

photo credit: @ifatma. via photopin cc

14 Responses to Do You Really Need Your Cell Phone?

  1. Phil Brakefield Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Like anything and everything else, Steve, I think to cell or not to cell is simply determining the delicate balance that works to greatest advantage. The real challenge is maintaining that level of balance. Example…if I decided to check my cell only at 4pm every day, and I happened to notice a message came in from you at 1pm, I would be sorely tempted to break the 4pm rule.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Hopefully you would resist that temptation and keep your own daily schedule on track.

      Just about anything can wait — especially only 3 hours.

  2. Ace Luciano Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 7:36 am

    As always, Steve, you make perfect sense.
    My career has been in sales. I can’t believe what I’ve seen in just the past 20 years.
    Our first method of communication was voicemail. In my rural territory, I knew where EVERY payphone was. Many times there were several people waiting, as all sales reps were in the same boat.
    Then came the pager. Someone called, the pager went off and gave the number to call back.
    I also had a Franklin Covey planner that was 3 inches thick and had ALL of my contacts in it.
    I think I’ll take a break from the phone for a while.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Congratulations, Ace.

      I once held a sales rep position where we were all required to list our cell phone numbers on our business cards and provide them to all our clients.

      Of course, that didn’t mean we were required to be people’s puppy dogs and answer them.

      I’m sure that part of my personal record-breaking success in that position was thanks to the fact that I was the only rep in the company who routinely ignored incoming cell phone calls and rarely even turned my phone on.

  3. Loralyn Tate Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Quite frankly, I could live without mine. But, when my cable services went out and I needed to contact you, I had to search for mine, charge it, to call you a let you know the situation. I had not used it in ages.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      I’m almost certain you could have borrowed someone else’s phone to make whatever call you thought you needed to make — just about everyone thinks they need to keep theirs on their person at all times.

      That’s exactly how many top performers use cell phones on rare occasions: they use someone else’s.

  4. Kurt Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 8:31 am

    My wife left hers at home yesterday. I think she’s still suffering from withdrawl!

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      You mean she didn’t pay an extra $120 and waste an hour to go back home and get it — like I did in the above story?

      Good for her!

  5. Scott Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 9:47 am

    6 months ago i got rid of mine completely. I had to get one again after four months, but it’s a cheap prepaid sitting in the bottom of my glove compartment.

    It’s how it is now. I spend more time in front of less people, but each of my relationships have become that much more valuable since I started this journey….and you know me Steve…my business is on the Internet.

    Personally, I think smartphones are a cheap, lazy, counter-productive form of communication for the real human relationship.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Well-said, Scott.

      Congratulations on your business and lifestyle upgrade!

  6. Jon Bockman Reply

    August 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Can I live without it? Yes, definitely. Do I want to live without it? Not really. An app on it, did help me correct my son’s slice last night at the driving range.

    Keep up the great blog, Steve.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 29, 2013 at 9:02 am

      If you turn on the phone just to use an app like that, or avoid giving out your cell phone number to anyone but immediate family, then it sounds like you have it under control instead of it controlling you, Jon. Well done.

  7. Christine Howatt Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Today I discovered that my phone is totally dead b/c I forgot to charge it last night.
    Oh well! I’m trying not to stress over it. Someone can just leave a message. My family knows how to get a hold of me via other means.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      August 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Congratulations, Christine. Hopefully you had a more-productive-than-usual day, thanks to no interruptions and distractions.

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