Posted in entrepreneurial, personal

Turning off your cell phone before a meeting speaks volumes about your character

I had arranged a meeting with two students on campus this week to talk about entrepreneurialism @ UBC. It was rather informal and we just chose to sit down at a noisy cafe.

As we were sitting down, one of the students, Blake, took out his cell phone and proceeded to turn it off. He didn’t just switch it to vibrate or silent, but he turned it off completely.

I think I did a double take.

What a rare sight.

“Did you just turn off your phone?” I asked him, not doing a good job of hiding my surprise.

How many times have we experienced cell phones going off in meetings, movies, classes, and conversations? I’m just as guilty as anyone. We’re so used to it in this cell phone age we don’t often think twice.

“Oh, I just hate it when I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone and my cell phone goes off,” was his simple reply.

I don’t know about you, but he immediately went up a notch in my book. That small, simple act demanded respect in an age where we need to be constantly connected.

It says, “I care more about you, giving you my time, and sharing your company then myself.”

He didn’t end up agreeing with my vision, but that’s okay. That was probably one of the best conversations I’ve had all week.


Jon Chui (pronounced "chew") has been building iOS/Android apps for the last 7 years, the last 3 working on Google Maps, Inbox by Gmail and Google's Search App. Though he grew up in a Christian family and to parents who would end up giving up their 25 years of hard-earned comforts/affluence in Canada to go back to China as missionaries when he was 14, being a Christian was always in his head, and he would constantly struggle with trying to unify the sacred and the secular - until last year. However, through a radical transformation[] @ work last year (which he can't take ANY credit for), he & his wife & 2 young boys have decided to leave Google, sell/donate everything they have so to serve the poor & marginalized with Jesus’ love as missionaries with's Family DTS in Kona, hawaii then to the Philippines. Read more about their family journey @, and reach out to him @ If you're a recruiter with freelance jobs or have tech projects for jon feel free to reach out to him -

2 thoughts on “Turning off your cell phone before a meeting speaks volumes about your character

    1. Hey alex,

      I don’t get what you mean by “the default”? Do you mean the default behaviour for people? If that’s what you mean, it definitely hasn’t been my experience.

      Others asked me how this is different than silent mode. Please realize I’m not trying to build my world view on this, or that I feel everyone must turn off their phones during meetings or conversations. This simple, subtle act just really struck me and made me feel that my time was very valuable to him.

      Definitely a big contrast to how I have handled my meetings in the past.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s