Momentum Podcast: 392

Stop Having Meetings

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

The fact that a lot of us can't stand meetings is valid. Meetings, for the most part really don't feel productive or help us get anything done. Let's be honest, most people think meetings suck. Stop having meetings. Meetings are ambiguous, in our company, we instead have targeted interactions. I love meeting with my team. Escape the constraint of meetings and start having targeted interactions so that time with your team will create momentum.

Full Audio Transcript

I have a book on my shelf called Meetings Suck. And the reality of meetings in the entrepreneurial world is that we have a default loading of meetings. We don't want to be in them, we don't want to talk about them, and let's be honest, a lot of us feel like they suck. This is a message I got from my client, Emily Hirsch, this week. She said, "I used to hate meetings, now I look forward to these. I just got off of it and I always feel so pumped after them. I'll tell you the difference between Emily's meetings and yours in just a sec.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for Empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we enter the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution and we always will be.

It is almost a given in the entrepreneurial world that everybody hates meetings. In fact, when you look at business overall, the spoken and unspoken truth is that most meetings are terrible. We hate being in them. We don't want to be there. I was a consultant for over a decade at the Fortune 500 Global 100 level. And I can't tell you how many times I sat in a meeting and or I walked into a meeting and watched other people filter in and you can see in people's body language, they have no idea what they're doing there. In fact, you could often see people lean over to the person next to them and say, "What are we doing here?"

And you know that if people are walking into a room cold, they don't know what they're doing there, they don't know why the meeting is being held, that very little is going to be accomplished. So, the fact that a lot of us can't stand meetings has great [inaudible]. It's valid, it's real. Meetings, for the most part, don't feel productive, we don't get a lot done and not a lot happens.

Well, there is a way that you just like Emily Hirsch can feel so pumped after your meetings. There is a way that you will go from avoiding meetings to be unexcited that a meeting is on your calendar and being excited it's coming. There is a way that time with your team in a meeting can go from feeling like operational drag and like you've dropped a boat anchor or you're running through molasses and you can't wait to get out of the room, to time with your team feeling like momentum. Here's how.

You have to stop having meetings. See, meetings are this ambiguous we're going to get together. We train, and in our company we have targeted interactions. We have, we call them TIs, and every single time our team is going to get together for any reason, it is a TI of some sort. We have our annual targeted interaction, our quarterly targeted interaction, our monthly, our weekly, our daily huddle is a targeted interaction. We have an operations TI that every week happens where we have an operations targeted interaction. And I'll tell you, I love meeting with my team because we have eliminated the feeling of meetings that are ambiguous, unorganized where people aren't prepared, they don't know what's going on, and you have random outcomes and you don't really know what you're getting. We have created this policy of having targeted interactions where everyone knows what's going on.

Let me tell you the difference between a meeting and a targeted interaction. So, in a meeting often people don't know what to prepare, they don't know how to prepare, they don't know what they should have. In a targeted interaction, we have priming and preparation. Let me tell you the difference between the two. First, priming. We are actively letting our team members know that a meeting is coming. In fact, Haley who's on my team and who's an angel who keeps my life running. She also operates our entire cadence program. So, when we have a weekly meeting coming, she tells the team the day before we have a weekly meeting coming. She reminds them the day of in our daily huddle. When we have an annual, she starts telling people 30 days out that our annual meeting is coming. So, we are constantly priming our team that it's coming. We don't want them to have to look at their calendars. We don't want them to have to worry about when meetings are coming. It's going to be primed. They're going to know that they're coming. Then there is clear preparation for each meeting we have.

As an example, every month, we have our monthly targeted interaction. The preparation for that monthly targeted interaction is to look at the prior three months results, understand where we were, we look at some of our financial information, our critical number and our metrics and we are prepared to go into our monthly meeting. So, we know where we stand. We have priming and preparation. That right there changes most meetings completely and makes them much more targeted. But let's keep going. See, in each targeted interaction we have, we also have a clear intention. So, in our annual meeting, the intention is to do three things. One, confirm our client centric mission. We're going to go through it all together and understand exactly where we're going to. Two, we're going to go through our objectives and set our annual objectives for the year, and three, we're going to confirm our critical number. The number we're going to track throughout the entire year. When we leave that annual meeting, we have three clear outcomes, there's a clear intention going in, and we know exactly what we're going to walk out of the meeting with.

When you have a clear intention and outcome for a meeting, it becomes so much more targeted. It becomes easier. It's a targeted interaction. When you already know what the result is going to be, then the meeting has so much more focus, and it completely changes how it feels. Then the next part of a targeted interaction is choreography. Here's what I mean by choreography. We hold our meetings in the same way every single time we have them. I should call them targeted interaction. We hold our targeted interactions the same way every single time we have them. The same introduction, the same process for each type of meeting. It follows an agenda. Everyone can anticipate what's going to happen next, and because we have a clear choreography with the same introduction, the same agenda, everyone can anticipate what's coming next, we allow our team to perform at their best in every target interaction because when the choreography is clear, when everybody knows the agenda, when everybody knows the step by step, they can win in the targeted interaction.

It's not like a meeting where things are happening haphazardly or it's ambiguous, or there's really not a plan, and the worst thing that happens in normal meetings is that there's drift. You get together for one thing and you end up going over six or seven different things without actually covering the thing that you originally got together for. When you have a targeted interaction, that just doesn't happen because there's clarity going into the meeting of exactly what's going to happen and what everybody's going to accomplish, and everyone's been warned and prepared for the meeting ahead of time. They've gotten priming, they prepared for the , they get in, they go through the choreography, you accomplish the attention of the meeting and you have predetermined outcomes walking out for every single one.

When you have this type of a process in your business for each meeting, suddenly they become targeted interactions, but then also they become motivating. They're exciting. Your meetings will stop being something you avoid and start being something you're excited about. I remember when this first happened to me in business, forever, I couldn't stand meetings. I was a consultant, I went to a lot of worthless meetings, I went to a lot of meetings, it just didn't work and then I decided to start putting together the beginnings of what we now have as targeted interactions. Even in its infancy, back when I started saying, I want to prime every meeting. I want everyone to know what we expect from them. I want my team to be able to win, not to come in and be confused. It was amazing how much helping everyone else understand what was going to happen in the meeting made it better for me.

I remember the first time that I went into a meeting where we had everybody prepare, where we had an agenda, where we knew our outcomes, where everyone knew what we were trying to accomplish, I walked out and I wanted to do it again. I was someone who suffered through meetings, who had to go to meetings, who it was part of my job as a consultant, it was part of the contracts that I had. But I remember the first time I actually set it up where it felt like everything happened like it should, meetings created momentum which was the craziest feeling for me because prior to that, I had always looked at meetings as one of the biggest periods of constraint in any business day.

I wanted to be off on my own doing what I could do, not having to be in a meeting because it always felt like being, like entrepreneurs, we don't love committees, we don't want to be part of a group, we don't want to be part of a meeting, but when you have a meeting that you switch into a targeted interaction, when you have a meeting where you create a clear priming and preparation so everybody knows what they're doing. When you tell them up front, when you let them know what's coming, when you help them win, when you create intention going into the meeting, when everyone knows what the meeting is all about, when you go through choreography where there's an agenda that everyone understands and after a few weeks they know what's coming next and when you have predetermined outcomes, time with your team will create momentum.

I remember that first time that I had a meeting that created momentum, I just wanted more. And I think that obsession of both helping the people around me grow and growing the business and getting into that higher level of momentum led me to create the concept of targeted interactions. The quote I shared with you from the beginning of this podcast from Emily Hirsch, where she said, She's so pumped when she gets out of her meetings, is something that repeats itself over and over. In fact, I can't tell you how many times we've worked with a client that has told us, "I hate meetings. I can't stand meetings. I can't sit through meetings, but I know I want to grow my company," and we simply change their meetings to targeted interactions and within a few months, they're letting us know how much they love meeting with their team. And they confirm for us that time with their team has stopped feeling like constraint and it feels like momentum. Because after all, you get to a point as an entrepreneur where you can't do it all yourself.

So, your decision is to either stall your growth, limit your contribution and hold yourself back, or to build a team of people around you who can help you make an even bigger contribution, who can help you do more, create more, and leave a bigger impact. And once you make the decision that you're doing that, the biggest lever you have in growing your business is helping your team create momentum. It's not all about you anymore. So, when you switch your meetings into targeted interactions, and they're at the same time over and over again, they're prepared, they're intentional, there's choreography and a clear outcome, you and your entire team will love them.

If you're ready to start growing your business faster, if you want to understand not just the concept of targeted interactions but how to strategically plan so everyone on your team knows where you're going and you can anticipate what you need next, you stop putting out the fire that just happened and start extinguishing them before they even start. If you want to understand how to create a communication structure so everyone on your team knows exactly where you're going, and have targeted interactions that are exciting, that leave you pumped afterwards just like Emily, and if you want to know how to hire the right people and do the right projects at the right time reach out to us. Go to If you are a business owner and growing a business, building a team around an opportunity that's bigger than you can handle right now, let's help you grow that infrastructure faster, take advantage of the opportunity you've created and go out and make the biggest impact and the biggest profits you possibly can.

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