Less meetings, please

This essay is embarrassing.

In 2021, I averaged 14 meetings per weekday.

This is not a benchmark to be proud of—looking at it now, I am disappointed and frustrated. What IN THE WORLD was I doing? If I could go back a few years and grab (and probably shake) myself, I would scream: “STOP. THIS IS NOT PROGRESS.”

I try to live life with minimal regrets. But man…I regret this so much. I cannot believe that I tricked myself into BELIEVING THAT 14 MEETINGS A DAY WAS LIFE.

To give former me some credit, it is not like I was out there _purposefully_ wasting my (or my team’s/investor’s time). I was having meetings that I THOUGHT were going to increase our likelihood of success. I was not out there having meetings with the press or investors or random vanity people. Not to be defensive (and I get it, I am sounding defensive), but my meetings were primarily one of three categories: sales, recruiting, and internal management. They were things that drove incremental progress (and honestly did help us get this far in our business’ life).

The mistake I made, of course, was not pursuing leverage.

I was not building compounding value. I instead tried to chase incremental progress by DOING THINGS MYSELF. More meetings. More meetings. More meetings. I was the hammer, and the nails I saw were just having more meetings.

The outcome from this was that I was not building leverage. I mean, we did scale, and we did achieve some wins, but I was not training/hiring other people to do the “lower leverage” work for the company.

In doing so, I was neglecting the most important thing for the company—which is to be building long term enduring enterprise value. You do the latter by creating RECURRING HIGH MARGIN REVENUE.

Leverage is the answer. I was too impatient. I was too nervous. I was too anxious. I just kept adding meetings to my calendar. Leverage is when you can make 1+1 = 3. This is what an organization is all about. You commonly do this by building technology that scales or building a team that scales.

I—as one individual—unfortunately do not scale particularly well. Even though I tried, I pushed myself to the limit—but eventually I, too, broke. I could only do so many calls (say 14). A team of 4 highly trained and competent people could EASILY do this better than me.

BUT I COULD NOT FIGURE THIS OUT. I could not see the forest from the trees. I could not separate progress from what is, at the end of the day, inefficiency.

Again, I was pursuing short-term progress. I was doing meetings that I felt would increase our odds of winning the week. Moving the metric. Getting a bump on the curve. BUT THIS WAS the WRONG USE OF TIME. Doing things that don’t scale is not actually the right advice in all situations (thanks YC).

Chasing incrementality (perhaps a word I just made up) was just the same as pursuing motion. I was DISTRACTED by things I thought were productive when in reality TRUE LEVERAGE WOULD BEAT MY WORK BY 1000X.

SLOW PROGRESS is better than no progress. And I could not see that. I could not see progress.

And instead, I let myself get distracted by meeting 1600 PEOPLE WITHIN A YEAR. I thought it was normal to do 14 meetings a day. Not for a day. Not for a week. But for a year!! (and the reality is that I actually did this same thing in 2020 and the same thing in 2022).

What the F@#%CK WAS I DOING?

People told me that was dumb. But I thought they were wrong. I thought they were just projecting. I dont know what I was doing.

I am embarrassed. You get that by now. But I am also confused. I am confused because, well, I was running…really sprinting for that long…thinking I was doing the right things. How did I get that far?

I think I was addicted to the feedback loop of making the incremental sale. The greed of that short-term feedback loop—of the immediate bump and that immediate win—I think blinded me from seeing the longer term picture. This distracted me from confronting really hard things; like hiring and training and scaling a team that could do 10x more work than I could ever do. I was addicted TO WINNING DAILY that I prevented myself from WINNING THE YEAR.

In many ways, a year is a much better time horizon to judge progress upon than a day. It just, well, requires a level of patience. It requires a level of patience that, I think, requires a level of confidence that I did/do not have in many ways. I think you need confidence (and acceptance/belief in yourself) in order to have patience knowing that you are doing the right things and marching in the right direction.

This is all part of my larger focus in becoming more intentional. And for me, intentionality often comes from a blend of understanding and acceptance. There’s an irony here which is that I must learn to ACCEPT without understanding. This is proving hard for me; I tend to accept ONLY which I understand.

But it turns out that that is not the best model because not all things in the universe are understandable. And, besides, I accept things all the time, implicitly, that I do not fully understand. For example, I do not fully understand how planes work, yet I accept the abstractions and trust the system.

Funny how I tend to end up here in my essays—back on the accept<>understand curve. A tricky one.

But back to the topic of this particular essay—LESS MEETINGS. REMIND YOURSELF. LESS MEETINGS. You are in control of your calendar.

If I were to give myself a fortune cookie for the future—I could say the following: DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF 14 MEETINGS A DAY. IT’S A TRAP. EVEN IF THEY SEEM LIKE GOOD MEETINGS. IT IS NOT LIFE. LIFE IS MORE THAN THIS. YOU CAN DO BETTER.

I will not make this mistake again.






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