How to Avoid the Black Hole of Bad, Horrible, No-Good, Pointless Meetings

The Greatest Time Waster of Them All

The word “meetings” draws a variety of responses from people, but let’s be honest, it’s often negative.

I remember an old saying about the financial consequences of owning a boat. It went, “a boat is a hole in the water that you pour all your money into.” Funny enough, I think the person I first heard that from owned a boat!

We could apply this formula to meetings, too: meetings are just holes in the schedule that you pour time, effort, and resources into with little result. The difference between a boat and a meeting is that the boat is fun.

In spite of this, I don’t hate meetings. No, really, I don’t. Meetings can be productive, valuable gatherings where a bunch of people add value to one another and create something bigger than themselves, accomplish huge goals, and set a course for success. They really can be.

Between you and me and the fencepost, however, most meetings are pointless.

That’s why it’s amazing how, even in the era of high-tech communication tools and always-on messaging/e-mail, meetings are as big a factor as ever.

Meetings are, in fact, more present than they used to be. There’s Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and so many other services that allow a large group of people to congregate online. The increasing number of businesses with remote employees guarantees that virtual meetings will only become more commonplace.

So how do you avoid the pointless meetings and have more good ones? My friend, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve both run and participated in an awful lot of awful and good meetings in recent years. From my experience, here’s what distinguishes the best meetings from the worst.

What GE Teaches Us About Developing Leaders

Lessons From A Great Corporate Culture

General Electric recently announced that CEO Jeffrey Immelt would be retiring after 16 years at the helm of one of America’s most respected and enduring large corporations. Immelt followed the legendary Jack Welch, who spent 20 years at GE.

Without wading into the debate about Immelt’s performance, buried in the same news clips was a monumental lesson for anyone interested in how great organizations endure.

So what did GE do that was so monumental?

It replaced Immelt with John Flannery, the president and CEO of GE Healthcare. Here’s why that matters.

Flannery has worked his entire career at General Electric, working his way up from the bottom. So did Immelt. So did Welch. None of these men held any substantial long-term employment outside of, or before joining, General Electric.

General Electric as a company is engaged in many different sectors, from consumer products to finance to engineering. But one thing stands as the glue holding the company together: they develop their leaders from within the organization.

This matters for several reasons.

The Big Importance of The Little Things

Friday Book Review of The Little Things by Andy Andrews

Book Cover of The Little ThingsWhen the first line of an Author’s Note exclaims “Gosh, you’re still here. That’s a good sign, I suppose,” you know you’re in for a ride.

Then you’re urged to rip pages out of the book, stuff them in your pocket, and pull them out to read when standing in line somewhere.

Then you get to the Preface, which is a single page entitled Preface with the words “Ha! I’m just kidding. There’s not a preface. Turn the page.”

Yeah, this book’s going to be different. Trust me, that’s a good thing.

At first glance, The Little Things by renowned author and speaker Andy Andrews appears to have, pardon the pun, little to offer. It’s just 160 pages. My hardcover copy fit into my car’s coin tray.

Before this, I’d never read any of his books, though I had heard of him. It’s hard not to have, when such works as The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer have sold millions of copies. Andrews is known for providing great insight in a down-to-earth way.

The Little Things does it. It’s a fun ride, but the lessons he teaches are substantial.

Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership

The Best 30 Minutes You'll Spend This Week

Leadership is a subject about which you can never know enough.

One of the best concepts about leadership comes from none other than leadership expert John Maxwell, who presents a view of leadership that one might liken to an elevator with multiple levels.

elevator with 5 levels

I recently came across a great video of Maxwell speaking about his concept of The 5 Levels of Leadership at the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Leadercast, an annual leadership conference hosted by the company. This is really good.

Before showing you the video, let’s take a moment to review the 5 Levels of Leadership to learn what Maxwell is talking about. 

Why You Need To Ask Why

And How it's Distinct From How

I’ve been reading Andy Andrews’ new book The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff. In fact, I’m going to be reviewing it on Friday. One of the most profound insights from the book is the difference between How and Why.

“Why,” Andrews tells us, is a question we all grow up asking when we’re kids. Now that I’m the father of a toddler, I know what it means to be on the receiving end of constant “why” questions.

Girl pondering why

Our rational side asks “how” things are done. But it’s that childlike voice asking “why” that may have the most to teach us about reaching the next level in any area of our lives.

How to Cultivate a Richer Prayer Life, Part 3

Longer Prayers for Daily Use

This is the final post of a three-part series on prayer in commemoration of yesterday’s National Prayer Day. Read the first post by clicking here, or part two by clicking here.

In the first two posts of this series, we explored some short prayers as well as some ideas about how and where to pray. Now, we’ll look at some longer prayers that you can incorporate into a daily prayer rule.

Praying with Bible

Shorter prayers are a great blessing throughout the day. They are even enough to sustain a life of prayer. It isn’t hard to find accounts of Christians of deep faith who focused their entire lives on short prayers.

If we are going to create a daily prayer rule, however, we should include the use of longer prayers also. This will allow us to be more intentional and thoughtful when we approach God. Let’s look at some longer written prayers that you might want to consider using.

How to Cultivate a Richer Prayer Life, Part 2

How and Where to Pray

This is part two of a three-part post on prayer in commemoration of National Prayer Day, which is tomorrow. Read the first post by clicking here, or part three by clicking here.

Man in Prayer

Now we will begin to turn our attention to incorporating prayer into our life by creating a prayer rule. A prayer rule is just a regular practice of prayer that includes a series of prayers.

You might want to try to pray at a specific time of day or in a specific place, but the key is consistency. Written prayers can be an important part of that.

How to Cultivate a Richer Prayer Life, Part 1

Using Short Prayers in Daily Life

Thursday of this week, May 4, is the National Day of Prayer. It’s as good a week as any to begin the discussion of why prayer is such an essential part of an intentional life. This is a three-part post. You may find part two here and part three here.

Why cover the subject of prayer? It’s personal. My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life, and prayer is the most important aspect of that. It’s is the most powerful tool God has given us. Best of all, it’s freely available to all mankind.

Man's hands in prayer on Bible

Prayer, more than anything else, has helped me to live a better and more purposeful life. I don’t know how I’d get by without it.

For a long, long time, I missed out on the joy of knowing God through prayer. Yet like the prodigal son, when I found my way back home, He welcomed me with open arms.

A Great Business Book in Disguise

Friday Book Review of Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Image of the book Shoe DogShoe Dog is an unusual book. It’s not quite a biography, covering a limited portion of Phil Knight’s life founding and running Nike. Nor is it a traditional business book, because it doesn’t foist bulleted lessons onto you. The best category for Knight’s book doesn’t exist: “Learn From My Experience.”

And what experience he has to share.

As the founder and longtime CEO of Nike, Knight presided over the explosive growth of a shoe and, later, full-featured athletics apparel company. Nike’s sales are now about $31 billion, but it all began in his childhood home in Oregon.

One Step at a Time

What This Blog is About

My apartment during my college years at Texas A&M looked like something from the show “Hoarders.” I had to step over piles of stuff just to get to my couch. When friends wanted to hang out, we went to their place. I was way too embarrassed to have anyone over.

My car may have been worse. Things would get lost in there and I’d find them months later. Oh, there’s that old bill, way under the pile of unread newspapers. Seriously.

In college I owned a retail business and most of the time, its files were a mess. I did numerous “spring cleanings” over the years before eventually selling it, but always drifted back to disorderliness. It wasn’t a mere habit. It was a sickness.

Then, several major life events forced me to reexamine my life. Changes needed to be made.