Momentum Podcast: 843
How I Learned to Love Meetings
by Alex Charfen
Visionary entrepreneurs have a hard time with meetings. Most visionary entrepreneurs have a difficult time with meetings because they tend to get distracted and lose focus easily. They may start fidgeting or thinking about other things they could be doing, which can make it challenging for them to stay engaged in meetings.
Instead, we recommend that entrepreneurs shift from meetings to targeted interactions.A targeted interaction is a meeting that has a clear intention, outcome, process, and time frame. Everyone in the meeting knows what they are supposed to accomplish and how long the meeting will take. This can help keep people focused and engaged during the meeting.
Targeted interactions make meetings easier to tolerate: By having clear intentions, outcomes, processes, and time frames for meetings, targeted interactions can help make meetings more productive and enjoyable. While it may take some time to get used to this approach, over time, targeted interactions can become easier to tolerate and even enjoyable for those who struggle with traditional meetings.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast.
In our company Simple Operations, we show visionary entrepreneurs and their operators and teams how to install our simple operations system, which is a series of meetings, a cadence of meetings that allows you to get what you need done as a company with a minimal amount of time involvement. But I have a confession to make. I have such a hard time with meetings. I'm like every other visionary entrepreneur. Maybe not every, but the vast majority. If you're one of those people who gets into a meeting and you instantly start fidgeting, you have a hard time. You start feeling like you don't want to be there. You want to distract yourself. I want you to know something. You are not alone. I teach this stuff. I've coached it for decades and I still have a hard time with meetings. But there's a way that I finally got to the point where not only can I survive meetings, but I've learned to enjoy most of them. And some of them I've even learned how to love. Not all of them, but some of them. I'll explain in this podcast.
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. Should 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 endure 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.
I'm a visionary entrepreneur, and just like every other visionary entrepreneur I've ever worked with, like, I'm not saying all of them are like this, but everybody I've ever worked with has had a hard time with meetings. We have a hard time with meetings where we're sitting through a process or we're in a room with people and we start fidgeting. We start having a hard time. I know for me personally, I started thinking of all the other things I could be doing. Even when I'm walking into a meeting, I have a really difficult time with this and I know where this comes from. This comes from my entire life of feeling like I have to be somewhere I don't want to be. I remember, you know, if you're like me, maybe you remember back in school when you were in like, the classroom, which is this long extended, dragged on meeting that never ends and thinking, ‘Gosh, there's so many other things I'd rather be doing’. And I'm not really interested in what we're doing right now. And I wish I could be just about anywhere else. And that carried on into my professional career.
You know, in my twenties I often talked about how I was a consultant and I worked with large multinational companies. I can't tell you how often I was in a meeting where I just wanted to get out, right? I'd look around, I'd be distracted. We didn't have smartphones back then. I'm aging myself. We didn't have smartphones back then, but I would be looking at other stuff. I would be making notes. I would be doodling on my sheet of paper because I had had such a hard time with most meetings. And most meetings are disorganized. People get together. They don't even know what they're talking about. I often share that. I remember seeing people walking into meetings and asking each other, ‘Hey, what is this about?’ And I would think what a colossal waste of time. And I think all of us have this history of having wasted time or having been in an interaction where we don't want to be there and we don't feel like it's effective. And it's hard to shake that off. It's hard for me. I coach this stuff, I teach this stuff. It's still hard for me. But here's how I've learned to tolerate meetings and in some cases enjoy meetings and in some cases get really excited about meetings: the way that we as a company coach and train entrepreneurs and their operators to hold meetings is we say stop holding meetings, start holding targeted interactions.
And here's what I mean by a targeted interaction. Instead of a meeting where people are asking, What are we going to do here? And instead of the runaway weekly meetings where you don't really know what's going to happen, or when you get together with people and there's, you know, 30 minutes for a meeting that runs for 2 hours, we have targeted interactions where in our operation system we know exactly what the outcome of a interaction is going into it. And so when I say interaction, I just want you to think meeting. So when we go into a meeting, we know the following and we know the intention of the meeting. We know the outcome of the meeting, we know the process, it's going to be followed and we know more or less how much time it's going to take and everybody in the room is going to win and is prepared because they know these things. So I'll give you one example. On a quarterly basis, we have our team and all of our members get together and decide what projects, what, what are you going to have that you're going to commit to in the next quarter? And so we look at projects that we're going to commit to. We look at the people that are either being promoted or moved around in the company or people that we're recruiting or people whose positions are going to change. We look at policies we're going to institute, and then we look at processes that we need to review and document and improve. And so each quarter we know going into our quarterly targeted interaction that this is exactly what we're looking at. And everybody in the room knows this.
We're talking about one thing the next quarter and what are the things that we are going to commit to? What are those high level projects we're committed to? And so coming into the meeting, everyone knows the outcome is we will have decided what we're going to do for the quarter coming into the meeting. Everyone knows they need to bring the information and what they feel we need to commit to for the quarter. And during this interaction we go through exactly what we're going to do and we analyze everything we could do. We prioritize what we should do. Then we commit to it and we go execute for a quarter and at the end of the quarter, we go right back into this same targeted interaction and we renew that five step process I just shared with you is our most foundational process. We analyze what we can do, we prioritize what we will do, we commit. Then we have an execution period. Then we renew by coming back and saying, how did we do and what should we do in this next time period? And when meetings are set up this way, when targeted and when meetings become targeted interactions where we have these elements, they get infinitely easier to tolerate.
And initially, I'll be honest with you, we really are tolerating these interactions. You know, I all the time talk to visionary entrepreneurs that are CEOs of their companies that have teams. And I'll say, ‘well, how often are you meeting with your team?’ And they'll say things like, ‘I really try to avoid meeting with my team’ or ‘when I need to’, or ‘we meet once a week’, but it really doesn't work that well. And the reason is there is no predetermined outcome of the meeting, There is no intention and there is no clear process as to what is going to happen. And when you start including these in every meeting you hold, you turn them into targeted interactions and you start actually seeing massive progress. And here's how I've learned to really love some of these meetings.
See, I know that if I participate in enough and this is what we teach our members, if they participate in enough of the meetings that they have with their team, we can start extracting ourselves from those. Now, I'm always involved at the quarterly level and I think any visionary entrepreneur should be involved at the quarterly level. We have a similar process that we follow on a monthly basis to determine what we're going to commit to. And then each week we have a weekly commitments meeting where we look at everything we're going to do in the week. Well, over time, as the weekly meeting gets better, I can pull myself out of those meetings. Our members pull themselves out of those meetings. The visionary entrepreneur pulls themselves out. We leave it to the operator. The reason I started to love these meetings is I know that if I do enough of them in any company I'm running, I'm going to be out of that meeting. Then over time, as the team gets better and better at execution because strategic decisions are made at the quarterly level, I can pull myself out of the monthly meetings because that's an execution meeting. We already decided what we're going to do there. The team can now start deciding how they're going to do it. So I start to love those meetings because the more that I do them, the closer I am to getting out of them. Same for our members.
And then I really love the quarterly meeting because I'm making strategic decisions with my team and seeing how we're actually going to move the company forward and what we're really going to do. And because I know that this is a targeted interaction and I know that there is an execution system for our team to follow, that these strategic decisions that we make are important. I know they're going to get executed for the most part, but usually at about an 80% or better rate. And I know this is going to move our company forward. So if you, like me, are challenged by meetings, have a hard time sitting through them. Want to distract yourself? The reason probably is because there's not enough intentionality behind the meetings. There's not enough of a process behind the meetings. They aren't targeted interactions.
By making this shift, by getting clear on the intention of a meeting, the outcome of the meeting, the process you're going to follow, turning it into a targeted interaction. You as a visionary? Yes. Any visionary can get to the point where first you will tolerate, then you will enjoy, and then you will actually start loving the meetings that you have as a team. And that changes everything. Because I've said this before, you cannot run a company without meeting with your team. And most of the visionaries I talk to meet with their team far too little. There's another percentage that meets with their team far too much where they're not targeted interactions. And in either case, whether it's too little or too much without a process, it causes confusion on the team. The team's waiting for word from on high or they're getting way too much communication from on high. Either way, they're confused and it just reinforces for us that meetings don't work.
When you turn them into targeted interactions, you actually start seeing them work. You feel momentum in the process. You know that things are going to happen in your company and you know that the meeting you're in is going to cause the growth that you want and then it's going to cause the impact. And let's be real, the income you want for your company so that you can go out and change the world. And if you're like me, I want you to stop beating yourself up about not wanting to be in meetings. I want you to stop avoiding meetings. I want you to start loving the targeted interactions that you have with your team.
Thanks for being here with me today. If you would like help in putting an operation system in your business where you can methodically grow your business by doing less and less and be involved less in the tactical execution and less in the day to day and see your company grow as a result. Reach out to us. Go to simpleoperations.com. Take them, take a second and sign up for a call with my team. We would love to talk to you about how we can help you install the simple operation system and grow your business beyond what you feel is possible right now and make a massive impact in the world. It's what I live for. It's my obsession. I want you as a visionary entrepreneur to feel seen, heard. Know that you're going to execute on what you and your team commit to and make the change you want in the world. Because we need you now more than we ever have. Thanks for being here with me today.