SC Biz News


Subscribe to Our Digital Newsletters

Column: Who likes getting ‘presence’?

  • Contributing Writer
Print Story
  • Share

“Siri, turn on 'do not disturb.” Those six words have changed my life. Let me explain ...

In today’s world of connected electronics, I sometimes feel like one of Pavlov’s dogs. My iPhone pings, and I reach for it — an involuntary reflex, like salivating.

What had I become? A dopamine-triggered, drooling canine who couldn’t stay focused on the task at hand because some “shiny object” had suddenly caught my attention? I knew this wasn’t what I wanted. Something had to change.

So what did I do? I adopted a core value of “presence” and established some boundaries. Both my personal life and my business have been better ever since.

The definition of presence, simply, is the state of being present. Am I staying in the moment? Am I connecting with the person in front of me? Am I choosing to ignore distractions and pay attention?

As I type this, “Siri,” my personal digital assistant from Apple, is responsible for me not being sidetracked in writing this column. I had her activate the “do not disturb” feature on my phone before I began. Android has similar functionality.

I consciously drew a personal boundary that said: Nothing coming through on my iPhone is more important to me than finishing my article on time.

Here’s my definition of a boundary: An indicator of what is and what is not acceptable to me in my life.

Many say we live in a short-attention-span society. A 2015 study showed that the average human attention span has dropped to 8 seconds. The goldfish can last 9 seconds. Frightening, isn’t it?

I know that if I’m going to be successful and stay connected to others, then I get to practice my core value of presence (some prefer “mindfulness” and that’s great too.) How can you do the same?

Start with being aware of when you drift from being present. Consciously choose to bring yourself back to the moment. Create boundaries that support you to stay focused. It may take a few weeks for this to become habit, but it will change your life and your business. You deserve the gift of presence. Go try it.

Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic advisor and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Have a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at or on LinkedIn at

Startup Roundup

An insider’s view into Charleston’s Startup community. Curated by Thomas Heath

I quite often get asked which entrepreneurial events around town are worth attending. It was with that in mind, that we created Startup Roundup. If you’re looking for startup, tech, digital and entrepreneurial happenings around the Holy City, here are my picks for the best coming events:

One Million Cups
9-10 a.m. April 5, 12, 19, 26
Every Wednesday at 9 a.m., the Charleston community of One Million Cups gathers together to listen to a different entrepreneur present about their business. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, 1505 King St. Extension, North Charleston. Free.

Startup Grind
6-9 p.m. April 5
This monthly gathering is part of a global movement that’s in over 200 cities and 98 countries. This meeting will feature an interview with Grier Allen, the culture driven CEO of BoomTown. BoomTown, 1505 King St. Extension, North Charleston. $10, but use code CRBJ25 for 25% discount. Register:

SCORE - CEOs & Business 
Owners Roundtable
9-10:30 a.m. April 12
The SCORE Association is dedicated to  entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide. The Charleston chapter will be hosting owners and leaders of established businesses in a roundtable format moderated by Joe Conti. Charleston Main Library, 68 Calhoun St., Meeting Room B (2nd Fl.), Charleston. Free. Register:

Video Content Strategy - AMA Monthly Meeting
12-1:30 p.m. April 13
The Charleston American Marketing Association is a great group of diverse professionals who provide members and newcomers with a forum for growth and success when it comes to the world of marketing. This month’s meeting will feature Tod Plotkin. Hilton Garden Inn, 300 Wingo Way, Mount Pleasant. $20 Members & Students, $30 Non-Members (includes lunch.) Register via Eventbrite:

Instagram for Small Business
5:30-7 p.m. April 19
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media tools around. This mobile photo and video sharing app is reaching over 600 million monthly users. But how can small businesses take advantage of it to grow? The Life Guidance Center, 3030 Ashley Town Center Dr. Bldg. B-203, Charleston. $35 (class limited to 20 attendees.) Register via Eventbrite:


  • Share
Write a Comment