When you ask some people to give you 10 minutes of their time, it can feel like you’ve just suggested they donate a vital body part. Let’s face it, we are all protective of our schedules.

Plus, many of us question the value of a conversation that lasts a mere one-sixth of an hour. What can you really accomplish in a mere 10 minutes?

Thankfully, people like CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen actively live by the age-old adage: make every minute count. In Mathisen’s line of work, 10 minutes is a great deal of time. As the co-anchor of CNBC’s “Power Lunch” and public television’s “Nightly Business Report,” Mathisen is accustomed to the pressures of deadlines and time constraints.

The amount of information Mathisen can efficiently share on-air in one minute is more than many of us can disseminate in 10 minutes—or more. He manages to honor the mainstream media’s fast-paced landscape yet, at the same time, never make you, the viewer, feel rushed.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a gift—desired by many; possessed by few.

Prior to joining CNBC in 1997, Mathisen was a highly respected, award-winning writer, senior editor and top editor for Money magazine. While at the magazine, he was invited to join “Good Morning America” as its money editor—a role he occupied from 1991 to 1997.

Take him off-camera and he seems to display what can only be referred to as a “focused calm.” Though you quickly appreciate Mathisen’s very human need to make the most of his time, his demeanor is never frenetic. He is thoughtful, confident and kind.

What’s more, Tyler Mathisen is a thinker: you literally see the wheels turning in his eyes. But most of all, you know his mind is churning in a selfless yet heartfelt attempt to make the most of your time together.

Considering the value Tyler Mathisen can generate in only 10 minutes, it’s easy to wonder: does he have a favorite 10-minute soundbite?

Yes, he does—and it took him only 10 minutes to tell me about it. 

Arlington, Virginia—June 1976

Tyler Mathisen had recently graduated from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville with a degree in Government and Foreign Affairs. And the contemplative Mathisen had a plan: “I was basically prepared to go to work in Washington—probably on Capitol Hill where my father worked—and spend a year or two before going to law school.”

Now back in his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, Mathisen was on the verge of starting a new job as a gofer for the House Ways and Means Committee. “I was going to do the stuff that a 21-year-old college grad would do—and I was going to be paid $8,000 a year.”

Well, we all know what they say about the best laid plans….

“On a Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call from the University of Virginia’s Professor Champ Clark. I had taken his class on magazine writing.” Clark was also a legendary former cover story writer for TIME magazine. Clark offered Mathisen a job, but with a caveat: it was not full-time, it was a contract position that would last only 8-10 weeks. Mathisen would assist his former professor and mentor in writing a special edition of TIME magazine titled The American Presidents.

The dilemma? Walk away from the secure, full-time government job and take a chance on a short-term assignment.

Mathisen wisely trusted his intrinsic thought process: “This is what I really want to do—I want to write for TIME magazine. I want to see where this takes me.”

Unlike some of us, Tyler Mathisen’s professional Top Ten list seems to be measured in minutes—not individual actions: “In that 10-minute moment, my life changed because everything that I have done since that moment derived from that decision.”

He pauses briefly and succinctly adds: “The lesson is to be open to accident.”

Does Tyler Mathisen feel that reading this story will change your life? No, not necessarily. As always, his goal is more universal in nature: the presentation of his thoughts as a means to stimulate yours.

“Most people, if they think about it, could isolate one of those special 10-minute moments.”

So now, Tyler Mathisen and I ask you: What is yours?


You’re smiling now, aren’t you?

For more on marketer, writer, creative consultant and motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones, visit RandallKennethJones.com.

“10 Minutes with…” by Randall Kenneth Jones appears in TURQUOISE magazine, Naples, FL.