Recently the Economist declared India’s Aditya Puri the world’s best banker by a country mile.

The accompanying two page article revealed an outstanding personal achievement in taking his H.D.F.C bank, created only 16 years ago, to its current status as the world’s tenth most valuable bank, worth U.S. $90 billion, namely more than the better known Citibank or H.S.B.C.

Since Mr Puri’s bank went public its return to shareholders over 25 years under his management has exceeded an extraordinary 16,000%.

He’s now pulled stumps due to health factors but in explaining Aditya Puri’s remarkable success, what the Economist outlined certainly struck a chord with me.

He sometimes went home for lunch, worked unbankerish short hours but overall, as I’ve always advocated for commercial success, relied primarily on observation and thinking.

Most conspicuously, (like me), he doesn’t own a cell-phone. Indeed, he goes further and doesn’t have a computer.

On my observation the degree of personal commercial success can be measured in inverse proportion to the degree of cell-phone usage.

Two extreme examples.

First, our city streets across the country are currently littered with (mainly) maori beggers, all clutching cell-phones.

Another is the absurd lining of our cities’ and suburbs’ streets and country roads with rows of plastic cones. Small groups of purported road workers can occasionally be seen lingering near them, always, most babbling on cell-phones.

Numerous studies have revealed the huge addiction factor underlining cell-phone ownership. It has certainly not advanced efficiency.

In my field I bought my first commercial building 60 years ago. Since then I’ve bought literally thousands across the world and can speak with experience when I say that the commercial world I’ve known over that lengthy time span has never been more inefficient. Cell-phone dependency has been a major factor, albeit there are others.

A positive consequence of this is it has never been easier through the absence of thoughtful competition. Aditya Puri would doubtless endorse these sentiments, but probably agree with me that advancing them falls on


I can agree we have lost the “thoughtful” society, and cellphone addiction swallows a lot of what should be contemplative time. But used appropriately cellphones are still excellent. I’m sure many millionaires and billionaires have long had them.

But! Cellphone’s need a new function. A do-not-disturb-unless-it’s-truly-important function.

This way we can put our cellphones in a mode where we will not be disturbed unless it’s something that really can’t or shouldn’t wait, and more importantly where we can *know* we will almost certainly not be disturbed. In turn, we can reclaim our mental space when we should have it. (Note that phones are inherently rude – they butt in!).

    That function already exists. It’s called the off button

      Yeah but not really. You still want to be accessed when you really need to be.

      How it works: You phone me to tell me that a steamroller is about to run over my car, outside work. However, I prior pushed the “priority calls only” button on my phone, so when you call me you instantly hear: “Andrew Atkin is only taking priority calls right now. Press zero to continue calling or hang up”. You press zero because you love me dearly, and you know that I want to know to run outside immediately and move my car.

      Everyone else calling me just hangs up and leaves me alone. Awesome! 🙂

If it weren’t for my cellphone I wouldn’t be reading this anti cellphone opinion.

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