How to Be a Supremely Productive Person: A Chat With John Halamka

John Halamka has two CIO titles, a family, passionate rock-climbing and wine-making interests and a major-league blog habit. We discuss his celebrity turn in a BlackBerry ad, his tips for e-mail triage, how he sleeps three hours a night and why he now understands Britney Spears.

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Did you have any reluctance about doing this? Because it is a vendor, and you're in a highly regulated industry, do you have to disclose the deal with anyone? Get permission?

Let me tell you about how I deal with all conflicts of interest. It's quite simple: I never take personal compensation for anything. That way, when I fill out the conflict-of-interest statement at the end of the year, it just says "None."

So this means that if there is a desire for someone to pay for my services, lectures or [to give me] honoraria, I donate them to the institution. This way I never have a personal conflict of interest. And that's what I did in this case—to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Just so you know, this was not a heavily compensated thing. There are standard fees which are given to any person who appears in film because there are rules of the Screen Actors Guild. When I walked on the set, I was given the appropriate paperwork and given $100, which is the standard fee for filming some member of the Screen Actors Guild in something like this.

What do you think these ads running in mainstream publications, like Time and BusinessWeek, say about the CIO role?

Everyone recognizes that the CIO is now a professional role that is a peer with the CFO, the COO, and it's extraordinarily strategic. It's no longer the guy in the back room with the billing mainframe doing bits and bytes. It's a peer member of the senior management involved in all the strategy making of the organization.

Have you ever uttered the word CrackBerry, and are you now contractually forbidden from using the word?

I have certainly used it, and I have not signed any contracts whatsoever that restrict anything that I say.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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