Fewer meetings – short and long term solutions

Advice posts/columns recommending fewer meetings often tend to emphasize the importance of saying no, mandating quiet hours, and using asynchronous channels to minimize meetings.

While these are helpful as short term band-aids, they do little in the long term because they don’t solve for the root cause – a lack of clarity within the working team.

The most effective long term solution I’ve found is to learn to write better documents, build better spreadsheets, and create crisper slides.

One clear and concise doc or slide deck typically saves 100+ hours (sometimes even 1000+ hours) of meeting time.

Competition and abundance

One of the fascinating truths about life is that competition exists in everything we do.

If we’re running a business, we have to deal with competitors.

If we’re attempting to find a job, we have to compete with other applicants.

And, of course, dating is a competitive sport too.

So, competition is an ever present – in all the areas that tend to count anyway.

And, yet, the other side of this truth is that we are significantly better off when we ignore its existence.

The intent here isn’t to deny reality. Instead, it is to view it with a different frame – a frame which focuses on the fact that most games are not zero sum games.

And, choosing to focus on the abundance makes us happier people and, often (perhaps surprisingly), better competitors.

7 billion people and the one person

Every once a while I’m reminded of the quote – “There are over 7 billion people on the planet and you’re going to let one person ruin your day?” 

It doesn’t always fix my response to the situation at hand. But, it does considerably improve the situation each time.

Here’s to more of that.

Michael Lewis and stories we tell ourselves

“As I’ve gotten older—I would say starting in my mid-to-late 20s—I could not help but notice the effect on people of the stories they told about themselves. If you listen to people, if you just sit and listen, you’ll find that there are patterns in the way they talk about themselves.

There’s the kind of person who is always the victim in any story that they tell. Always on the receiving end of some injustice. There’s the person who’s always kind of the hero of every story they tell. There’s the smart person; they delivered the clever put down there.

There are lots of versions of this, and you’ve got to be very careful about how you tell these stories because it starts to become you. You are—in the way you craft your narrative—kind of crafting your character. And so I did at some point decide, “I am going to adopt self-consciously as my narrative, that I’m the happiest person anybody knows.” And it is amazing how happy-inducing it is.” | Michael Lewis

This note made me think about the narrative I’ve crafted about myself. My hunch is that the narrative I share revolves around the three words that I think of as my cultural tenets – integrity or doing what I say I’ll do, learning or attempting to find growth in every situation, and hunger or the constant push to move things forward and contribute positively.

I’ll be mulling this some more, however. Powerful idea.

(H/T: James Clear’s newsletter)

Meetings with executives – making them useful and messing things up

How to make meetings with executives most useful:

i) For projects in early stages, use the time to align on the problem statement/goal and ask any related tough clarification questions

ii) For projects in execution, create simple docs/slides that share progress toward ETAs and bring forth all the hairiest disagreements and decisions the working team is facing (without throwing peers/partner teams under the bus).

How to mess things up: 

i) Not demonstrating urgency/speed

ii) Covering up misalignment within the working team

iii) Attempting to impress the room with beautiful presentations vs. prioritizing discussions on hard questions and outcomes (any celebration of progress happens best when it ensues vs. when it is being pursued)