Know your mechanical prime time

12 Aug 2008

Sam Carpenter

In 1984, Sam founded Centratel, the number one commercial telephone answering service in the nation, located in Bend, Ore. With a background in engineering and publishing, he is a telephone answering service industry consultant, writer and speaker, and has served as president of several regional and national answering service organizations.

Sam is author of the book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, published by North Sister Publishing, Inc. in April 2008. He also founded and directs Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit that aids surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 8, 2005.

Originally from upstate New York, and an Oregonian since 1975, he is married to Linda Carpenter. He has a daughter and two grandchildren. He and Linda are also in the process of launching an Internet business that promotes communication between absent adults and their children and grand children. Outside interests include climbing/mountaineering, skiing, cycling, reading, traveling and writing.

Latest posts by Sam Carpenter (see all)

Most people have jobs, and as of this writing, there is not a general revolt against the concept. In any society, it is a revered position – one that carries a certain “it’s a good feeling to be part of the team” camaraderie. Whether a democratic or a socialistic state, it is understood that the people who are out there working jobs are the bedrock of the society. They keep the wheels turning.

For you, having a traditional job rather than operating a business is ideal if any one or more of the following are of ultimate importance: 

  • Freedom: It is a luxury to be able to leave the job at the end of the day and not have a single work-related worry on your mind.
  • You abhor the idea of managing the extra degree of financial risk, uncertainty, and headaches that can come with a business.
  • In your job, you are doing what you love, feel a high sense of self-esteem, and simply don’t want things to change.
  • You are building something of value in your job, and the future looks bright.
  • The job situation is the only way you can obtain the necessary resources to do the thing you love (flying a jet, or politics, for example).
  • You value the social aspect of being surrounded by peer employees.
  • For the moment, you must survive as you prepare for independence down the line.
  • You are making more money than you require, creating a future of freedom just from the assets you are stashing away.
  • With your skill set, because of your physical location, or for whatever reason, there is no opportunity elsewhere.
  • You crave the security of insurance, retirement fund, savings plan, etc. 

In your job, Mechanical Prime Time (MPT) is the time spent on improving sub-systems. In other words, in step-by-step fashion, you create self-sufficient primary systems (your department, for example). Presuming you wish to advance in your career, it is critical you expend your MPT in the proper activities.

Understand this: Producing the service or product is not MPT! “Doing the work” is a distraction from what must be done to ascend the corporate ladder – or, for that matter, to achieve independence in a small business. Your focus must be on perfecting the systems that DO the work, not the work itself.

Note: The book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More describes how to determine your MPT. To order your copy of the book, or to receive a free download of Sam Carpenter’s “Six Steps to Working Less and Making More,” see

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