The king of France unveiled a spectacular new machine in 1370: a public clock.
It was the first public clock in Paris, and the king saw its potential. He issued a decree that all clocks in the city were to be synchronized with this royal clock.
He created what the Germans call a zeitgeber, or time giver for life.
Not much has changed, in that external rhythms can dictate how we operate. If you build or sell air conditioners, the seasons drive your schedules. For public companies, quarterly reporting is a zeitgeber. So are budget cycles. The Internet has quickened news cycles. Leaders set the pace, too.
One CEO became a human zeitgeber. An affable guy, he began greeting employees in the lobby each morning. Soon, some came a half hour early, and more.
Everybody knew what he was doing, of course. They just reset their schedules to his rhythm.
— Adapted from Time Mastery, John Clemens and Scott Dalrymple, Amacom.