making the most out of meetings

  1. Don’t do meetings.
  2. If meetings are required ask yourself “Can I contribute to it?” If not, get out of the meeting.
  3. Keep meetings short.
  4. If meetings can’t be short split the topics. Unless you’re creating the next Coca Cola you won’t need a long meeting.
  5. Arrive prepared. Do your homework, read mails, papers, etc. 
  6. Don’t ask for a recap at the beginning of the meeting of what you should know. Arrive prepared or else you’re useless.
  7. Don’t ask for a recap at the end of the meeting.
  8. No smartphone.
  9. At least one person should do the meeting recap via mail, listing all that’s been decided. (If no action will followup the meeting, then the meeting is useless and could’ve been discarded).
  10. If no person is defined, be the one. Take responsability and ownership.
  11. Let people talk.
  12. Respect the time. If a meeting last 30 minutes, 10 minutes before the end a timer should ring and the recapper should both replay for the presents what’s been decided and prepare the email. If the meeting last 1hr do it 15 min before the end. If the meeting last more than 1hr refer to rule number 4.
  13. No small talk at the beginning of the meeting. Take coffe together before if you really need it.
  14. Arrive prepared (yes, it’s written twice because it’s _that_ important).
  15. If you can’t arrive prepared skip the meeting.
  16. Be on time or everyone will lose time. Your time is not more important than others, whatever your position.
  17. Ask people _beforehand_ if the meeting time is ok. A meeting on a calendar is not a way to block people time.
  18. Arrive prepared.
  19. Arrive on time.
  20. Don’t be a jerk.

on accepting critics

This year I made an “experiment”. 
I wanted to know from some people if I had some issues to fix, both technical and non technical, so I sent out a small survey to ask them for help and an honest question.

Not all of them answered but some did and their answer was not what I was expecting.
I first felt nervous because whenever you get some critics comments you are always caught a little bit off guard, even though you asked for them.

Then I detached a little bit and thought about what they were saying to me to understand what could I improve.

Now, here’s the thing: When someone is discussing about _you_ there’s no way you can easily shut down the instinct to say “No, I’m not like that”.
If someone comes to you and have something to argue about what you’re doing or how you’re doing your work it’s hard.

It’s hard to accept that even if that person is right.
My personal howto is to take some time and analyze it by removing all the personal bias from it.

If I’m thinking “He’s saying this to me because _he/she_ doesn’t understand bla bla bla” I’m trying to lower the value of their judgement.
It might help your ego, but it doesn’t help you understanding if they’re giving you a chance to improve or not.

Remove the bias, remove all the judgement coming from your past experience with them. Even if they have some bias they might still sharing you this issue _because_ you don’t know how to communicate it.

sharing your opinion

Is there a way to share your opinion so that it gets accepted?

NO.

That’s it. 
There are times when it’s because you don’t know how to communicate that your opinion doesn’t get accepted, but the key thing many people don’t get about it is that _you will still get rejected_.

There’s no way around it. There are times when your opinion isn’t useful, isn’t requested nor it can be understood and you cannot change that.

There are times when you will share your opinion using your best work, your best intentions because you care so much about a project, a person, whatever and it will still get rejected.

Your job is to learn when it’s a right time to share your views and in case the answer is “NO”, accept that.

Because if you aren’t able to accept the fact that your help isn’t required, that your solution won’t be the chosen one, then it’s your ego talking, not you.

there are things that last forever

One man once said to me: Nothing is more definitive than a temporary solution.

He was damn right.
Our internal narrative says “We’ll cope with this temporary solution and then we’ll fix it”.
But we won’t fix it.

I’ve _never_ saw a different story. The times when we decide to change a “temporary” solution are so rare that this old saying rings true.
What to do about it? Don’t call it temporary, and go for the good solution.
Because, another great man said, you spend the same amount of time developing a bad and a good solution, so better go with the good one.

let’s sell it more

You have a product, you want more sales (or start sales).
What do you do?

  1. Pay for advertising
  2. Ask friends to share the link on facebook
  3. Ask coworkers to share the link on facebook
  4. Do a website for your product

What if none of these really matters? (well, maybe number 1 in case of well established products).

Want sales? The question is not “How can I get more”, the question is “Why am I not getting enough of them?”

And the answer, 9 out of 10, is: Something’s wrong with the  claims, with how you sell it, with what you say and we don’t know why.

Hard to fix right? But there’s an old job that’s the perfect example of how to get the right sale pitch for your product.
It’s a job that doesn’t require you to ask friends to share a link to a website, because that doesn’t drive sales.

What drives sales is: Selling.

So what do you do? You start selling it to real people in real life.
_And you record the audio of each sale_.

The first 10 sales will be pure garbage, but once you adjust your pitch you’ll see some reactions and hopefully more sales.
Once you are confident of the pitch, once you can sell it confidently, _then_ and only then it’s time to do a website, advertising, whatever (no asking to share link, please. A product worth sharing gets shared. Your friend john won’t earn you any sale).

After all the hardest part in selling, is selling.
There’s no workaround, but you can MVP it by selling _first_ in real life, then in the medium of your choice.

nobody likes to drown

What’s the first reaction when you’re not able to manage a sea or a pool and you’re drowning in it?

You move frantically your hands and try to shout “Help me”. 
It one of the few moments  in life when ego and our social status doesn’t get in the way.

In near-death situations we tend to get back to our roots, to ignore whatever status we have. To do what’s needed to survive.

In the usual life, though, we don’t.
We avoid asking for help because it might mine our status, it’ll make us look weak, fragile.

We think that, by doing it by ourselves, we’ll be greater, have more impact, have more money, be more important.
Except that it’s not.

We’re that guy drowning in a pool. In some cases the guy can get out by himself, but in most of the cases he dies.

We’re slowly dying to protect our status, missing out the opportunity to improve, build something greater than us, something we might not be able to do by ourselves.

Ask for help, you’ll see that it’ll benefits you and your work.

how to run a marathon

If you’ve never run in your life, would it be possible to run a marathon tomorrow?
Of course not. 

Would it be possible in one week? Nope.
What if you’d have 1 year? Maybe.
3 Years? Yes.

But how can you get to run a marathon in 3 years?
You have to prepare, maybe not each day, but frequently and consistently.
You have to plan, to define the many small steps in between.

The first months you’ll be able to run 10 minutes. A marathon in those days will feel like you’re trying to do the impossible.
But if you keep working, if you keep training, after a few months those 10 minutes will become 20 minutes, a kilometer, 2 kilometers.
The distance till the end will slowly become smaller.

What if you slack? That time won’t become smaller.
And the thing is: it’s not about a marathon. It’s about doing things.

Learning to sing, learn a new language, learn to discuss, learn to be kind.
All of these activities are like learning a marathon. They require time and _most of all_ they require consistency.

They require you to show up and do your thing each and every day for a long time.
They require you to not give up, to continue even if it seems too far, out of your reach.

And if you do trust that the end is gonna come, that you’ll get to that goal one step at a time, then you’ll get to the finish line.

Because consistency trumps everything. It trumps talent, it trumps fortune.
Consistency is the key to do, learn, and improve.
The only way to keep doing things is to be rigid about it. To do it nonetheless. Rain or shine, good or bad day.

Because each misstep will take you away from the goal, from the result and will make the goal impossible to achieve even though it was possible in the first place.

are you super-busy?

How do you feel like you’re super busy? 

It feels like you’re a key piece of the puzzle, like if the company _depends_ on your skills.

It might happen from time to time to be extra busy, but if your go-to answer for any question or request for help is “I’m too busy” then you should rethink your role.

You’re not important, you’re a bottleneck.
I know, it’s nice to be extra-busy, to feel that buzz of importance. But if it happens too often or if it doesn’t allow you to help people _on your same team_, then it’s not working as it should.

You should think about _why_ this happens and find a plan to get out of it. 
Plan some buffer time to allow busyness to compensate and extend like water, ask for help. Whatever the solution, think about it.

what if you don’t agree?

There might be times when you don’t agree, maybe it’s a decision that will backfire, or maybe you feel like you’re risking the face of the company.

Whatever the reason is fine if you disagree. But is it fine to _always_ do it?

It all boils down to choosing the battles you really care about.
In a growing company everything is a work in progress, which means that everything can be improved.

Should everything improved right away? Probably not.
Some topics are more important and urgent than others, while other topics can be left out for a while.

If you always disagree or you’re always the one giving advice there are consequences. Your words will be valued less because they’re so frequent, while if you choose wisely the topics to discuss you’ll have higher chances to explain your views.

Pick your battles, because you wouldn’t have the energy to fight them all anyway.

why it matters

Working might feel like trying to help a ship going forward with no idea on where we’re going. No information on where we’re heading. It’s easy and sometimes required to hide information. To share less of the task to avoid people trying to do something they’re not supposed to. This is a way to control the flow, it works under some circumstances but it has one major flow: It doesn’t allow people to grow.  To let them grow you should allow them to make some mistakes, to learn the boundaries between “this is a topic you are competent in and you can contribute” and the “this topic is way out of your context so it’s hard to produce a great contribution”. Obviously this argument suppose that you’re surrounded by people who can think with their own mind, leaving ego aside and caring about the project. If any of these attributes is missing hope is still not lost. It’s all a matter of doing one small step at a time, learning and working on the attributes that are not quite there.  Once you have them all in place, you can proceed.  “Why it matters” adds a lot of value to everyone. Because people can help you, but they can also understand why you’re doing something, leaving aside some personal consideration. For example: If a mail is sent to everyone asking to do a specific thing, you might wonder: “What’s the deal? Why is it so important?” If it’s not written in the email then you add your own conclusions like “well, they just want some spotlight, etc etc” and they might be wrong. But if it’s written, like “Please, if you feel this new blog post on _balblalla_ can contribute to the team or the customer you’re working with, share it with them. Our goal is to help grow both our teams and customer and gain some visibility throughout this journey”. That doesn’t sound so bad, isn’t it?
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