#102: How To Say No To Meetings

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This is a podcast episode titled, #102: How To Say No To Meetings. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Peter Drucker hated meetings. Steve Jobs hated meetings. You'll be hard-pressed to find a successful founder who thinks meetings are good for business or productive -- and yet meetings plague every single one of our businesses every single day. (After all, this is like -- the third episode of SW we've done on meetings.) So we're back to talk about how to SAY NO to meetings at your company. Come and say hi on Twitter @dcancel and @davegerhardt

DC: All right. Next episode.

Dave: Next episode. Man, this is one that is surely to get your blood boiling. One we've been meaning to do for a while.

DC: I can't breathe.

Dave: This episode is called, How to Say No to Meetings.

DC: I wish you could see me right now.

Dave: And this started from-

DC: Please.

Dave: This started from... You retweeted something a month ago.

DC: Please say no to meetings.

Dave: Somebody retweeted Farbod... Shout out, Farbod. He said, " You'd likely-

DC: Farbod. Excuse DGs. He's from Wister. Sorry he didn't say that right.

Dave: I don't know many names. You said,"You likely have to get management approval for a$ 500 expense, but you can call a one- hour meeting with 20 people and no one notices."

DC: Amen. And waste$ 5, 000. Right?

Dave: You said," Oh yeah, waste$ 5, 000." You said," Say no to meetings, please." That stirred you right up.

DC: Please. Yeah, I'm always the meeting hater in the world, right. Or at least in the places that I'm a part of.

Dave: I'm going to find the... While you talk about this, I'm going to find the internal post, the internal memo that you wrote.

DC: That's right. I said," No to meetings," that I wrote internally.

Dave: Yes.

DC: I think Farbod... Excuse me, if I'm saying that incorrectly, I think he nails it. We're fast to jump on things that are easy to measure. We've talked about that in the past. That's what we like to do as humans. And one thing we can measure is the dollars we're spending, but we don't spend the amount of time on the things that are hard to measure that actually might be the most impactful. Easy to measure some things in marketing that are not impactful. Hard to measure some things in marketing that are super impactful, like this podcast by Conversations. But in this case, spending money is easy to measure. Meetings, and the wasted time that we're bringing, and some people have done some great stuff online, which are little meeting things where you could actually put in the number of attendees in the meeting, and it's like a ticker that tells you how much money you're wasting.

Dave: Oh, my God.

DC: So I love that. But something like that is hard to measure and so we let them run rampant internally. And the meetings lead to consensus, and consensus is the enemy.

Dave: And you know what? So I was going to read this Wiki post, but I realized this is one of the earliest posts that you wrote on our Wiki at Drift. We've talked about meetings on this podcast before, but you've reshared it three or four times. So it just shows you that it's easy to... We-

DC: It's so easy to forget.

Dave: ...we rotate back towards meetings.

DC: Yeah. Meetings are so easy to forget. I think Bezos said something. What's up, Jeff.

Dave: Shout out.

DC: Shout it out. So Bezos, I was reading something or listening to something that he said. And he said that his aim is to design teams in such a way that they never need to meet with each other. That's his objective, that's the golden standard. Obviously, he's probably not there, but that is a well- designed organization. And the reason that he said that is, it's just like on the technical side, well- designed interfaces and programming or APIs, if you design them really well, there's no reason for them to have to coordinate with each other. And so to have that overhead, so perfectly designed teams work in such a way that the communication channels are built into the design, and so they never have to stop to meet and to waste time. And so that's the goal.

Dave: I love it. And then when... We have this inaudible, when you do get in a meeting, the best meetings are... This is something I never used to do, but now I'm just like, " You know what?" I'm not being confrontational to say, " If you're in this meeting, shut your laptop."

DC: Shut your laptop, man. That's my ground rules. Shut the laptop. Turn the phone off.

Dave: Turn the laptop, no one on the phone, Let's use the whiteboard. Let's actually get it done. If we can't get it done-

DC: Then just leave.

Dave: ...then we don't need to have a meeting.

DC: Yeah. The other one is just get up and leave if you're not contributing to the meeting. The other problem with meetings beyond wasting people's time and driving a consensus is that it's going to be the loudest person or people in the room, that are going to run the meeting. And over- rotate the opinions towards them. And the quiet people, and the more introverted people are not going to be able to overpower those loud people in the meeting.

Dave: So about a month ago, you handed out a book at one of our management team meetings called, The Effective Executive.

DC: Yep, Peter Drucker.

Dave: Peter Drucker.

DC: My homey.

Dave: This book was written in the... It's a bunch of his stuff, probably sixties.

DC: The sixties? 1960s? I'll throw that away, Dave. That's no good.

Dave: That's too old.

DC: That's no good.

Dave: They don't know about Zoom now.

DC: No, no, no, no, no.

Dave: Remote work.

DC: What kind of lessons could be in there?

Dave: So he said," Another common time waster is mal- organization. It's symptom is an excess of meetings."

DC: There we go.

Dave: "Meetings are by definition, a consensus to a deficient organization, for one either meets or one works." Right?

DC: That's it.

Dave: "You cannot do both at the same time. In an ideally design structure, which in a changing world is of course only a dream, there would be no meetings. Everyone would know what he needs to do to get his job done."

DC: DG, please take a screenshot of that. And we're going to frame that and put that on every door that leads to the conference room. That's going to hang on every door.

Dave: This room where we do the podcast is no longer the podcast room.

DC: No, no. It's been overtaken by meetings. We're going to take that over. I love that. That's why Peter Drucker is the G. Buy that book, The Effective Executive. I'm not selling you anything. I get no commissions. The homey is dead. But read that book.

Dave: Read that book, and I'm going to tell you something. You will learn nothing new in that book.

DC: No.

Dave: But you need to-

DC: why would I read it?

Dave: Because, this is something... Same back to your boy, Bezos. What does he say?" Focus on the things that do not change. Focus on the things that withstand the test of time." So if it's in this book from the 1920s,'30s,'40s,'50s,'60s, it still applies today more than ever. And most people are not going to listen to it because it's old. I'm a millennial. What am I doing? Why should I be reading a book from the'40s?

DC: No, you should be Snapchatting.

Dave: Let me give you another one. Steve Jobs. Was he good?

DC: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: Hated meetings. Hated meetings.

DC: I love you, Steve.

Dave: We just read a book about how Apple, the whole culture, The Simple Stick, right? Insanely simple.

DC: I brought out some sticks.

Dave: DC has been known to whack your boy right here with The Simple Stick, a bunch of different sticks.

DC: Brand stick.

Dave: A brand stick. No excuses. In the book, there's a piece. So he was obsessed with small teams, small meetings. And even when they would be doing something huge, like a Super Bowl commercial, he was the decision maker with one or two other people and the agency.

DC: That's it.

Dave: But he was the ultimate decision maker. Small meetings. One time he looked across the table at somebody who he didn't recognize. And he looked her right in the eye and said," Why are you here?"

DC: Cold blooded.

Dave: And she made her case. And he's like," No, you don't need to be here. Get out." Kicked her out. Anyway, in the book, you should go read it, maybe we'll give out some.

DC: Yes. Apple, also famous for the DRI model, which we use at Drift, Directly Responsible Individual, where Steve had nothing to do with your rank or your title, but would choose a person to be the DRI for a specific project. And that was the ultimate decision maker.

Dave: Why is that? Because if you're both responsible for it-

DC: No one's responsible for it.

Dave: Love it.

DC: Come on, Steve.

Dave: So in the book it says," How to have a great meeting. Step one, throw out the least necessary person at the table. Step two, walk out of this meeting if it lasts more than 30 minutes. Step three, do something productive today to make up for the time you spent here in this meeting."

DC: DG, screenshot of that too. We're going to put that next to the Peter Drucker thing. So when you walk in any door at Drift, you will read two posters, Peter Drucker's and Steve Jobs', as a reminder. Maybe we'll laminate them on the table.

Dave: Ooh, I like that. You have to look at it.

DC: You have to look at it. You can't walk past it.

Dave: So, send us out of here with some advice. This episode is, How to Say No to Meetings.

DC: Just say," No."

Dave: Just say," No."

DC: It's simple, but not easy to do. Opt yourself out of the meeting and say," Instead of a meeting, I'm going to go focus on putting in the work, putting the points on the board, and making this company, this business, this non- profit, this club, more valuable."

Dave: Can I give you a new habit that I've started?

DC: Please, I need new habits.

Dave: Every Sunday night... You know how I write my lists out? I look at my calendar, and I just start deleting meetings that I don't want to go to, or don't need to go to.

DC: I love that. I love that. I've also been getting some new techniques, not ready to talk about them yet, because I got a new coach, and my coach is former seeking wisdom, guest-

Dave: Wow.

DC: ...Brad Stulberg.

Dave: Wow. Shout out.

DC: ...who wrote the The Peak Performance book.

Dave: Great episode.

DC: Great episode. He's now one of my coaches. I have several coaches. And he's helping me out on some stuff. And we'll have more to say about meeting some of the practices he's teaching me.

Dave: I can't wait.

DC: You know why?

Dave: Why?

DC: Because you're never too old to keep learning.

Dave: Amen.

DC: Back to the episode before this.

Dave: Yeah. But come on, you've done...

DC: That's a lie we tell ourselves.

Dave: What is there still to learn? What do you got to do this for?

DC: I don't know anything.

Dave: Do you think... You know what would be a hot idea? I don't know if you... You'll be open to this.

DC: Okay.

Dave: When you and Brad are done with your sessions, we should have him back on.

DC: Perfect.

Dave: And talk about the transformation.

DC: Perfect. Let's do it.

Dave: Talk about the key things.

DC: Yeah. He's trying to transform me. It's a hard work.

Dave: Brad is also trying to help transform this podcast-

DC: How so?

Dave: ...by connecting us-

DC: To who?

Dave: ...with one of our homeys.

DC: Who's that?

Dave: Rich Roll.

DC: Plant- based?

Dave: Plant- based.

DC: Hashtag?

Dave: There is something in the works, something in the works. I don't have a lot to reveal right now. I'm not inaudible.

DC: Okay, keep them hanging. Keep them hanging over there.

Dave: But I can let you know that we talk about Rich a lot, and Rich might be coming to your ears soon.

DC: Okay. That'd be amazing. You know what Rich would love? Five star reviews.

Dave: I love it.

DC: So one way that we can ensure that Rich Roll will make it onto this podcast is if we have more five star reviews so we can say," Yo, Rich, look at all these five star reviews."

Dave: Look at these.

DC: "This is where you need to hang." That's how we can ensure that we get better guests for you in 2018, more five star reviews. So we don't have a Patreon, we don't have a book to sell you. We don't have a course. We don't have anything. But what we do have is an ask. Leave a five star review. If you believe in Christmas, hook me up for Christmas.

Dave: Hook him up.

DC: Hook me up for Christmas, Kwanzaa, whatever you believe in. Hanukkah. So for my Hanukah gift-

Dave: Hook DC up.

DC: Hook me up with a five star review, ideally six star review. Say," Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, whatever you say with Kwanza, Happy Kwanza."

Dave: From our family to yours.

DC: Yeah.

Dave: Six stars.

DC: Six stars. Thank you, Uncle.

Dave: All right.

DC: All right. See ya.

Dave: See ya.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Peter Drucker hated meetings. Steve Jobs hated meetings. You'll be hard-pressed to find a successful founder who thinks meetings are good for business or productive -- and yet meetings plague every single one of our businesses every single day. (After all, this is like -- the third episode of SW we've done on meetings.) So we're back to talk about how to SAY NO to meetings at your company. Come and say hi on Twitter @dcancel and @davegerhardt