Throw Out the iPhone & Ditch the Email?

Some of the most successful people I know don't have an e-mail account. I don't mean that they don't have a public e-mail account-I mean they don't have one at all.

The same people don't have a Blackberry or an iPhone either.

And, not surprisingly, they're not on Facebook or Twitter.

Whenever I share these facts with colleagues or friends, I normally get a shocked reaction. The underlying attitude seems to be: you can't be successful without those things. You'll be out of touch!

I wonder. Perhaps being “out of touch” also means being in touch… with your own creativity, ideas, and internal leadership. Perhaps being “out of touch” means not being told what to think by the “million bright ambassadors” of self-induced ADHD.

I'm just sayin'.

What do you think? Is it possible to succeed today without being Uber-connected? Is being “out of touch” (in the way I have described here) a virtue? Or is it a sign that you are a complete and hopeless Luddite?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • I don't think it's a choice by these “unconnecteds” you speak of to be out of touch. It sounds to me like they have chosen to be out of reach… out of reach of the very things you mentioned above.

  • Mia

    Well, Ray, what's funny about your observation today is that it's true and it's not true at the same time. I'd be willing to bet that those successful people you mentioned have enough resources and staff to get somebody else to check email messages, true? And possibly check FB and other go-to sites if necessary. I am a blogger for small businesses and have discovered that there is a market building low-cost sites for entrepreneurs who “don't have time for computer stuff.” They know it's important to have a web presence (my words, not theirs) but they just don't want to bother with it themselves. Especially the baby boomers, oh yeah, we are multi-tasking beyond our bi-focal capacity just using a cell phone… Anyway, there are still only 24 hours in a day and we only have so much attention to invest during those hours so, you're right, most of us eventually figure out that “something's gotta give….” Really enjoy your posts.

    • Milkmanreed

      Not all have someone else do it…. I know one VERY successful person that does not have email or cell phone, never has had. Only has one part time assistant that does not have any email. I can be done, although I know it is very rare.

  • I have been thinking about this lately, that email takes a disproportionate amount of my time, especially all the ones that started coming from a Guru named Edwards lately 🙂 No seriously you send a lot of emails but they are so good that I archive most for future reference!. I like the thoughfulness in your emails.

    I have a gmail account these days and made a separate folder for guru emails and have them automatically marked as read and stuffed into that folder. That way I don't have to read them but can search in the later if I need a piece of information

    • Thanks Simon. Obviously I haven't ditched my iPhone, iPad or email account either. And Seth Godin still answers his own emails. But this whole thing makes one think. How connected ism TOO connected?

      Sent from my iPad

  • I recently was involved in this type of discussion because my business was uber connected back in the 1990s but now I am going back to basics versus being on call 24/7.

    I am super active online but not via a mobile phone–which makes some people crazy.

    Also I peruse my communications (email, social media streams) twice a day to keep up with trends and colleagues.

    Since I am a rural area, this helps me keep visible and keeps me in the minds of people rather than disappearing due to location.

    Although I don't think it is vital to be so connected at all times, I do believe it is necessary to be competitive and on top of what is happening because there will come a time when it will not be optional.

    My last book deal made me crazy because my editor had me print the manuscript and send a disk over instead of just having me email a copy.

    So, you can function without but will miss out on a lot of opportunity and getting an edge on those in the same business.

    Personally, I am happier with a global market at my finger tips and an international network of other businesses to work with and refer.

    • Good points from real-world experience. Thanks for sharing!

      Sent from my iPad

  • Martin

    Hmmm… another gem from Ray. Really good one, too. Nice comment from Simon, and his idea of different folders for emails from different sources is good. I've been doing that for awhile and it sure makes life easier.

    Gotta respectfully disagree with Mia on a couple of points, however. I know several very successful people who have absolutely NO web presence, no email, and no staff to keep abreast of what's going on in the “outside” world. One of my sons-in-law, for instance, runs a business that provides local businesses a much needed service. He's the best at what he does and his services are in constant demand. All his business comes to him via referrals and word of mouth… no advertising, no website, no email… and he does just shy of $3 MM a year. He couldn't care less about the outside world… his focus is on local businesses and providing his clients the top-notch service they expect from him.

    I've tried time and time again to get him a web presence, but he says it would just distract him. The same with email. If one of his clients has a problem, contacting him or his office by phone will make instant connection and is not be dependent on when or if someone happens to check their email for messages.

    Ray, you mentioned that “…being 'out of touch' also means being 'in touch'….” It sure does for David. Being “out of touch” with the “outside” world means that he's not distracted by things that have no value, meaning, or benefit to the work he does for his clients, and enables him to be more “in touch” with his clients' needs, problems, and concerns, and “in touch” with his own creativity and his ability to solve, satisfy, minimize, or eliminate those problems.

    David, my son-in-law, is just one of several examples that I can cite who have chosen to not go down the cyber-connection path, and who have significant results to show for it. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and getting us to think more clearly about what “connection” means. Another real winner from you!

  • Jon


    I used to subscribe to a bunch of internet marketing email lists. And then one day I realized that being on these lists and being bombarded with one offer after another was actually a HUGE obstacle that was keeping me from being successful.

    I removed myself from 80% of the lists I was on and another 15% went into a Gmail account that I briefly look at once a week. Now there are only a few marketers that I will allow into my inbox. And this select group has one thing in common: They deliver great content in the majority of the emails they send.

    It's all about the power of less. Keep the distractions to a minimum and you will free your mind for the important stuff — like building your business.

    Removing 95% of the emails from my inbox was very liberating for me. I only wish I would have done it years ago.

    Jon Poland

  • John Thomas


    Funny. I read a post with similar thinking over on Doberman Dan's blog yesterday (, and I couldn't agree more. I like my email (am paring down to checking it once, maybe twice a day), and I absolutely refuse to get a smartphone. While I would love the pda functionality (task list, calendar, reading pdf's on it), the last thing I need is emails showing up on my phone. I'm ADD enough without spending an extra $40-$50 a month to negatively impact my productivity.

    Great post,

    – John

  • donniebryant

    Ain't it the truth! Ain't it the truth!

    Have you ever noticed how many connections guys like Gary Bencivenga or Clayton Makepeace have on LinkedIn? Twenty and 68, respectively. Pretty illustrative, wouldn't you say?

    I think that 98% of the people are becoming hyper-social in order to reach their desired level of success. Many people get uber-connected indiscriminately, trying everything they can in order to grab hold of their dreams.

    The upper echelons in any industry don't have that need.

    What's the REAL ROI for such efforts, anyway. About 98% (my favorite number today) of the business people I know don't make big money or meet major clients through social networking.

    For what it's worth, I don't have an account on Facebook or Twitter.