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What makes a good meeting? This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade set out to break down everyone’s least-favorite part of the workday — the meeting — but they wind up breaking down complicated office management dynamics along the way. They do offer concrete tips and strategies, from how to keep your head down early in your career to keeping the agenda focused and specific to the beauty of ending a meeting early.


Paul: Pheromonal exchange is key, right? Like, human beings looking into each other’s eyes, like —

Rich: That sounded sexual?

Paul: No, it’s not, you’re just sort of like, humans —

Rich: Phero — isn’t that like late-night TV drops you put on your underarm that makes you love other people and people want to love you?

Paul: It’s the key to successful meetings.

Paul: Here’s what we’re talking about, and here’s why — you notice, a conversation about meetings immediately went towards the largest, most complex set of institutional dynamics, right?

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: Meetings are when all of the, like, primitive Darwinian behavior starts to come out.

Paul: You know what a very powerful signal for me is, and this took me years to learn: boredom. If I’m bored because someone is talking at me at a meeting, I have a very low threshold, essentially, for getting interested in something. I like lots of subjects. I like to know how the world works. I like to know how business works. I like to see people do things. If I’m bored, it’s because somebody’s lying to me. If I’m bored it’s because somebody is just full of nonsense.

Rich: Interesting.

Paul: I don’t think I’ve ever — even if somebody’s spewing jargon, if they’re engaged and their brain is moving, I’m gonna pay attention. If someone is just up there taking my time, I die inside.

Rich: Well you and I need to talk, because I can see you drift off a lot of the time when I’m talking to you. We’ll sidebar this —

Paul: I feel this is more because we’ve had the same conversations about 36,000 times.