The antidote to bad meetings

Edited excerpt from I Prefer To Leave Early by James Altucher:

Next time you go to a party. Maybe even it’s a political party. Or a charity event. Or a dinner. Or a conference call. Or a sales meeting.

Do this:

Find the most valuable, fun, creative thing you can learn as quickly as you can. The one thing that will add value to your life. Hone in on it FAST. Learn something.

Then leave.

Even in a sales meeting: if you learn from the customer, the customer will buy from you.

(1) Thank you Eli Hoffmann for the tip.
(2) I’m not sure how to apply James’ advice in practice. If you get something valuable from a meeting, how do you know it’s “the most valuable, fun, creative thing” you could have got? Should you leave immediately, or stay and see if you can get something better?
(3) An alternative rule: When you’re in a meeting, ask yourself if you got something genuinely valuable during the last 5 minutes. If yes, stay for another five minutes, and repeat. If no, leave.
(4) Important to note: Genuinely valuable includes “I meaningfully helped this person”. It’s not always about us.
(5) How can you apply this without being rude? What should you say as you leave?

6 thoughts on “The antidote to bad meetings

  1. A follow up thought to this:

    The beauty of James’ advice is that you always go into meetings with a clear goal — to hunt down value you can get out of the meeting.

    In contrast, I phrased my alternative rule in an unnecessarily passive way: go to a meeting, sit there for 5 mins, see if you got value, and if not, leave.

    A better formulation would be: When you go to meetings, to with an agenda to extract value from every 5 minutes of time. If you find you’re not doing that, leave.

  2. “How can you apply this without being rude?”

    Possible suggestion: Preface the meeting with a self-admission: “I’m really bad at meetings and generally try to avoid them. So if I leave early or end this abruptly, don’t take it personally.”

  3. Pingback: The most common mistake startup founders make in meetings — and how to avoid it | A Founder's Notebook

  4. Pingback: If you have to have group meetings, do them like this | A Founder's Notebook

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