Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Torpid Tuesday.

About 61 times a day, someone—it often comes from someone I actually respect—gives me a phone call or sends me a note. The tenor of those notes is usually, “George, when are you going to start your own agency?”

While I would love to make more money, would love to be in-charge, and am already inclined to work my ass off, I usually push those people away. Starting your own place is almost silly to think about if you don’t have a $3 million account or two. Better people than I haven’t been able to make a go of it, I assume because they hadn’t the financial foundation to endure.

In any event, if I were to start my own place, I think I might set up one rule before I did anything.

I would ban meetings. 

The most effective meetings I've had in my life usually involve two people or three and usually take under five minutes.

"I read what you did, do you think you could add a little _____ to it?"

"Yeah, that makes sense."

"OK. I don't need to see it again."

"Thanks. How 'bout those Knicks?"

But mostly I would ban meetings because I’ve spent a bit of my life reading the economist and Harvard professor John Kenneth Galbraith.

He’s said some things about meetings that I happen to agree with. As I sit at my table and type and think and write, I see more and more people who seem shut inside conference rooms from the moment they arrive in the office around 11 till the time they leave around 5. They're never alone at their desks solving a problem, or actually writing something. They're surrounded, all day.

Here are some of Galbraith’s words…Perhaps, words to build an agency on. (I’ve de-genderized Galbraith's prose a bit.)

  • Meetings are a great trap—they are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.
  • People meet together for many reasons … They need to instruct or persuade each other. They must agree on a course of action. They find thinking in public more productive or less painful than thinking in private.
  • There are at least as many reasons for meetings to transact no business. Meetings are held because [people] seek companionship or, at a minimum, wish to escape the tedium of solitary duties. They yearn for the prestige which accrues to the [person] who presides over meetings, and this leads them to convoke assemblages over which they can preside.
  • [Then]… there is the meeting which is called not because there is business to be done, but because it is necessary to create the impression that business is being done. Such meetings are more than a substitute for action. They are widely regarded as action.

In sum: John Kenneth Galbraith noted six realistic reasons people why people like having meetings.
1.    To avoid the pain or boredom of heavy thinking or     work.
2.    To seek company and not be alone.
3.    For the prestige of holding the meeting.
4.    Prestige by association of attending meeting of a cool person.
5.    To pretend to work.
6.    To create the impression that some meaningful action
is being taken.

That's all.

I have to run to a meeting.

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