How many bad meetings have you attended in your life? And in particular during this pandemic? My dear friend and co-conspirator all topics of the future, Justin Flitter, kindly invited me to keynote Playbooks.Live Town Hall event this week. The theme? The future of meetings. At first I wasn’t sure where to take it – how do I make something often boring and make it interesting? What is the general pulse of society when it comes to meetings, anyway? I started where I always do, crowdsourcing insights and perspectives from my network around the globe. Then I took some time to explore Playbooks.live. And that’s when it all started to come together. The way we meet has changed forever. And now we have the tools to optimize these global opportunities. It brings me great joy to be returning to stage, and I hope that it means I’ll be seeing all of you soon. Take a watch (or enjoy a read) and let me know what you think about the thesis of this talk: “If time is the most precious resource we have, why is it that we’re okay wasting it at work but not in our personal lives?” Full speech text & Town Hall video below.
To set the virtual stage, there’s a moment that sticks pivotally in my mind. Ironically it was in Auckland. I was meeting a friend for lunch in the viaduct (sounds simple enough, right?)
“Are we still hugging?” Shannon asked as she approached. This would normally be odd as we’re good friends, but it happened to be March 16th, 2020. As I embraced her gregariously and unmasked, I had no idea that would be my last lunch meeting for a year. That meetings were about to change forever.
At risk of sounding like your pandemic-induced therapist, we have to talk about the past before the future…. Take a moment and ponder… what was the worst meeting you ever had? And the best? I’d venture one was more productive and efficient than the other, and more fun. Which brings me to the thesis of this talk: Time is the most precious resource we have, so why is it so much more acceptable to waste at work versus in our personal lives?
The more aligned and educated the parties are before a meeting, the easier it is to get through the agenda and get to the fun stuff. Productivity and purpose make us feel good. Wasting time while your peers read the things they should have in preparation, or watching others type, deflate morale like an air mattress on a hot day. Similarly, ignoring the elephant in the room (like the fact that we’re not in the same… room) doesn’t work either. The point is, the faster you get through the hard stuff, the sooner you can get to the yet-to-be-explored stuff.
Because deals still depend on human connection. Trust and loyalty take time to build. And often the best insights come when you’re off script.
When you’re on the same page, you get to have that human connection. You maximize the opportunity for serendipity – for real collaboration. It’s what meetings are for. A melding of the minds.
When I prepare for an important meeting (or any, if I have time) I look up their most recent content and news. If I can find the answers to my questions on the internet, I shouldn’t ask them here, I should use this moment as a gateway to dive deeper. To garner more personal and actionable insight.
There’s few things more flattering than someone understanding who you are and how you can help them. Your network truly is your net worth. And as a Beachhead Advisor to NZTE, an international judge for the New Zealand HiTech Awards, an Edmund Hillary Fellow, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 alum, I deeply understand the importance of this global connection. I wouldn’t be me without a village of support. My network of allies have always been a light in the most stressful moments of scaling my business. The gritty business advisors, my accountant, fellow public speakers, seasoned Silicon Valley legends, all have played a role in what we are today. And I’ve had the honor of seeing first hand how New Zealand in particular invests in your scaling businesses. And while I won’t make this political, let’s just say things are a little different over here in the states. I wish we’d take a note of your playbook…
I’ve been running an all-remote team for over five years now (admittedly largely so I could work from exotic locations guilt-free,) but I underestimated how much traveling to speak and see clients was a part of my identity. Honestly it’s been a tough year. But it’s nice to see the evolution of work around the globe. Now everyone gets to benefit from borderless business. We’re already starting to see the technology industry (and the tools that support it) thrive.
What I’m saying is, just because our current situation has accelerated the remote work revolution by a decade, our desire to connect (in a productive, non-repetitive way) hasn’t. And now that we’ve figured out how to connect with the world virtually, we need tools that ensure we harness every opportunity. It’s time for the tools we use, and the way we meet, to mature.
That said, I can’t wait until meetings resume their place over tasty bites and cheeky wines. When the background is real (but may still be blurred.) But I’m grateful the world has accelerated their adoption of the assets that will make our new life stick.
My personal challenge to you in the meantime is to be honest about the meetings you’re having. Bring awareness to the office. Note what’s working, and what bores you to pieces. Explore different lengths or meeting styles. Identify the conversations you’re repeating most frequently, or the questions that keep coming up, and turn them into playbooks. Because as you’re about to see, the effective exchange of knowledge will be the next innovation in meetings.