No Such Thing as “Just a Meeting”

June 10, 2012 – My son is getting married this evening and I’ve been wondering what last minute fatherly advice I can give Asher. Listening to the seemingly endless planning for the wedding gave me my answer. And this advice is something I learned from my father which I can now pass down to my son. How fitting!

Planning is everything. Many years ago, as a young lawyer I began working for my father, a solo practitioner in midtown Manhattan. One of the first lessons dad taught me was that the key to success is in the preparation. When preparing to negotiate a transaction, know in advance the deal you want to strike. When preparing to depose a witness, know in advance the answers to all your questions. Prep the witness and prep yourself.  The trick is to prepare for as much as you know and can anticipate in advance and then know when to stop.  Do the work and maintain the balance.

Sage advice from a wise man and an accomplished attorney.

Asher and Talia, your efforts and attention to detail will ensure that your wedding celebration will be beautiful and memorable, first and foremost because it will be your wedding and additionally due to the time you’ve invested in the preparations.

Over the years, I usually kept my dad’s advice close to heart and prepared before all important meetings, considering what questions might arise and how I might respond. There were times, however, when I went to a meeting with the understanding that it was to be just a meeting – a meet and greet type of event. And sometimes that’s all the meeting was.

Recently though I had occasion to recall my dad’s lesson in retrospect. I was asked to attend “just a meeting” so that the others in attendance could get to know me informally as a project was being considered. “Be yourself” was the reassuring advice of the meeting’s organizer. Midway through the 2.5 hour meeting questions began which might have been appropriate for a job interview but not for the project being contemplated. And I admit to being caught off guard. I decided to answer the questions directly without challenge and more importantly without deflection and redirection. In the middle of the following night I awoke, replaying the meeting in my mind. Something didn’t sit right with me about the way I handled the meeting. At first I focused on my answering of those questions, and wondered whether I did myself justice in the way I responded and whether and how I might have responded more effectively. Then I recalled dad’s lesson. Be Prepared. A major part of preparation is anticipating possible questions and answers and then bringing whatever happens back to your agenda – your desired goal. And that was my shortcoming with respect to the meeting. My shortcoming was less about what happened during the meeting and more about my forgetting dad’s lesson and not fully preparing in advance. By the way, I lucked out with respect to the outcome of the meeting and the project is still on the table. But that does not diminish the lesson here – why leave things to luck?

My dad is no longer around, yet his lessons live on. Do not leave things to chance. To the extent possible try to anticipate what might happen. Keep your agenda – your goal – in clear sight and let it be your guiding light for every thought, statement and action.

When attending any meeting remember – there is no such thing as “just a meeting” so, be relaxed, be yourself, and most  importantly be prepared.

Create and Consider the Possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                          

About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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