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I admit it: I’m always five minutes late. And it stops now.

I was just smacked in the face by a recent blog post by my dear friend Jeffrey Zeldman, Free advice: show up early, about the consequences of being late to client meetings. Why? Because it forced me to finally fess up to one of my major flaws: I’m always five minutes late.

Sure, five minutes is better than 20 minutes, but late is late. I always have a good excuse, but excuses are inexcusable.

“If 80% of success is just showing up, 90% is showing up early.”

People rarely complain about my constant tardiness, but I think they’re just being nice. I don’t want to wait for it to tarnish my reputation before I do something to change it. After all, I’ve dedicated my career to creating positive experiences. Why should I neglect the experience I create for my clients? (and colleagues, and friends, and family)

So I’m making a vow: From this day forward I will show up everywhere five minutes early. I’ll be the one who has to wait. I’ll bring a book, or a crossword or KenKen puzzle, or I’ll just make that phone call I’ve been putting off. Whatever I have to do to kill the time, in the long run it will make a tremendous difference in how I’m perceived.

I hope you hold me to this. If I’m late to meet you, I expect you to tell the world about it here in the comments. I deserve to be called out, and I want to be better.

I can’t wait to see how life will change when I’m not running late.

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  1. I've already called you out… and will continue to do so.

    BTW—don't do the phone call thing. Read a book or be writing something. Keep the technology to a minimum, and be ready to greet when the other person arrives.

    That'll get you to 95%.

  2. I've always been an “early” person, sometimes *too* early. If you can master being 5 minutes early, you'll be set (I 2nd doing something less important like reading over making a call.)
    If you're any more than 5 minutes early, your client will begin to think you're not busy, which can lead to more trouble.

  3. I made this same vow only 2 weeks ago. I feel better and folks are beginning to notice already. Let us know how it's going in a few weeks!

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