If you know me personally or through my blog or Facebook, you know that I grapple with how to balance my life with the number of requests I get for in-person meetings. I’ve written about this before, but it was time for a new plan. I’ve landed on a new approach.
The issue is that there are people who want to hang out, ask questions, and get input. There are wonderful friends of mine who want their friends and associates to do this with me. I WANT to say “yes” to most of these requests, because I like supporting my friends, I like welcoming new people to Boulder, I like plugging people in to opportunities, and I like being a community-oriented soul.
I’ve tried lots of approaches: using an online booking system, scheduling call time for airport drives, doing 15-minute “lightning calls” to allow me to say yes more. A couple months ago, however, my business partner Elizabeth shared some jarring feedback. She wanted to get on my calendar, and, she said she was particularly bummed because on the one time that could work well for her, I had a fairly “random” meeting set. By the way, there’s nothing normative in the word “random.” I think I stole the phrase “random meeting” from Brad Feld for meetings set with people I don’t know. Probably because of his openness to these, they are popular and available in Boulder, and it’s part of what (a) made this community open to me when I moved here and (b) makes this community special.
In addition to Elizabeth’s wake-up-call observation — which represents the tension between my areas of business focus and these meetings — these meetings poorly organized take a toll on my personal time (golf, long walks, etc) and on the time I might use to create. The latter requires space; creativity in my experience recoils in the face of a back-to-back calendar.
When I’ve thought about this issue lately, what’s surfaced is a specific vision. It has the following features:
- I set one block of time and commit to be available
- I go to a place I like, hang around, and people who want to connect come to me
- I do not set any specific appointments other than the block of time
- People can come (or not), they are guaranteed at least a 15-minute conversation on their topic of interest, and during other time, they can talk to anyone else who shows up
- Hannah is there also engaging in conversation. She knows as much or more than I about MergeLane, issues related to women in startups, the Boulder community, etc. She knows way more than I do about a lot of topics that people care about.
- The block of time is late afternoon, early evening
- The venue is located in downtown Boulder. It is a bar that carries cider that I like
- The venue has a REALLY GREAT BOOTH that we reserve for this purpose
I’ll see you in the booth!