A man schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules the man.
Did you know there’s a virus going around? I don’t mean the one that’s so bad it makes me look back on Brexit news with nostalgia.
I’m taking about Meetingytis, a dangerous condition that if left untreated can turn you into a full blown Meetingaholic.
This may not sound like a big deal. Most of us work in environments where meetings are an accepted form of life. What else are managers going to do all day? But while your boss does it because he loves the sound of his own voice, Meetingaholics do it out of a pathological fear of having a meeting-less agenda.
‘It took over my life’ confesses Sean Down, an addict who wants to remain anonymous (but I forgot). ‘I ended up neglecting my family, friends and my personal hygiene. At work I’d go to any meeting that would take me. I even participated in the ‘Accountant’s Lunch Catch Up’, which was not only useless (I work in IT) but drop dead dull.’
Sean admits gate-crashing meetings to feed his addiction. ‘Sales meeting were the easiest to infiltrate. They were all drunk or hungover’.
He recalls his shameful past, ‘I reached rock bottom when I caught myself going to ‘HUMAN RESOURCES: WE’RE HERE TO HELP’ (voluntary attendance). It was just me. That’s when I decided to ask for help’.
Help is not easy to come by. Traditional programs based on AA’s ‘My name is Sean and I am a Meetingaholic’ do not work as they involve yet another meeting, feeding the addiction even further.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Meetingytis strain has mutated and we face an even more devastating virus: ZOOM-MONELLA. Born out of the need to stay connected during lockdown, people suffering from ZOOM-MONELLA feel compelled to attend meetings ‘virtually’ 24 hours a day!
The latest casualty (an engineer from Surrey), was forcefully removed from his shed which had more screens, graphs and satellites than NASA’s control room. His loving wife tearfully admits, ‘Intervention was a necessary evil. He had turned into a ZOOM-BIE’.
Think this has nothing to do with you? Think again. How many times have you ZOOMED into a meeting and thought, ‘When is this going to end?’. Or worse, had the temptation to MUTE everything, pretend to listen while secretly watching DAS BOOT series 2? Or was that just me?
‘ANTI-MEETING’ lobbies around the world are calling for new laws to tackle the problem. Not by punishing the addicts, but by penalizing the ‘MEETING DEALERS’. Charming and persuasive, these criminals lure innocent victims into attendance with promises of coffee, Krispy Cremes and ‘It’s only 5 minutes.’ Without realizing it, the victim is subjected to ‘The Gateway Meeting’ (meeting to program future meetings) and addiction is inevitable.
Spokesperson for ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’, Rupa Datta comments, ‘There are different approaches to dealing with meeting addiction around the world. Some countries place a greater emphasis on law enforcement - while others do not’.
In the UK steps are being taken to create legislation to classify them into three groups – A, B and C.
Class A are the most harmful and include PowerPoint Presentations, (PPP is now an identified form of torture).
Class B includes meetings where someone with an ego the size of the UK debt hogs up all the stage time.
Class C includes people saying ‘I’ll be brief’.
Rupa continues, ‘Progress is slow due to lawmakers’ endless meetings. In the meantime, we should all be doing our part to stop this terrible disease’.
In order to do that, ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’ has published the following guideline that will help stop addiction before it even starts:
Sonia Aste is a comedian and a writer who avoids meetings like the plague. Find her on Twitter @SoniaAste
I don't know about you, but one of lockdown little blessings has seen a return to family card games. It took us a while to get there. Maybe 2 months in, with the odd game of rummikub for 2 (not my forte) slowly evolving into 'Declare' as a family for a couple of rounds most evenings.
I've often said that you need to treat your career as a game, not planning one step ahead but at least 2. That isn't to say don't also go with the flow and see what opportunities open up organically, but, if you don't know where you're going how are you going to get there? Sheryl Sandberg talks about careers these days being like Jungle-Gyms. We've heard the term squiggly career (coined by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis). There are a number of other possible game analogies for careers these days.
What struck me about declare recently was just how much the start was about strategising for yourself rather than competing against other people. Sure, there's an element of that but to begin with, all you have to go on is the hand you're dealt. Who goes to the table first is almost irrelevant. And at the front end of the job/role dance, you can only benchmark yourself against you - and maybe the job description.
Let's be candid. I found my flow with this game. I do well at it but for me it wasn't about the winning - it was reclaiming that time with family that gets lost in the daily grind. With the pace slowing down, I really didn't care who won however like with any hobby or habit, you can only get better than you were the day before and my learning of the development of my own strategy is another reason to keep playing.
Rupa Datta is a career gamer, happy to show you how to play it
'There was a running theme that recurred through last week. I count 5 conversations for sure. Whether it be the person I met (virtually) for the first time asking about my background and what I did, bringing my mates up to speed on my next move or catching up with people I've not spoken to for ages about recent and forward plans.
Those that have known me in a recruitment/career development capacity know I have a slightly blinkered view of the value of a CV. If you think that sending one across is a magic pill for your next move, you're wrong. BUT I am a strong advocate of having something that serves as a constant working document and anchor always at hand. You never know where that next job/role/assignment will come from and when.
Some may say this isn't necessary for business owners or those that are freelance. We're all be portfolio at some point in life - some for longer than others. And some by choice, others not. Let's also not confuse this with Linkedin - that's a professional profile. We may also be asked to submit videos these days. Having your base information to hand helps keep your content fresh in your head.
I've been decluttering loads over the past few weeks and serendipitously found a paper copy of the last resume I put together. It's 3 years old. Updating won't take me long and a process that I'm quite looking forward to. Time to put the kettle on and get to it.
Rupa Datta is your quintessential portfolio person. Happy to help with your career transition and eagerly getting ready for whatever is next
Have you ever thought that you looked good in your favourite outfits, and then realised you were so wrong? If I had to sum up my year being President of my local Toastmasters club that would be the analogy for a year of growth and reinvention.
Once again, it was a fairly organic move. Yes, there was an election but its fair to say that my moving into the role was relatively unchallenged. Having served as Vice President Membership in the run up and due to external circumstances, somewhat being the face of the club in the months prior, some might say it was a given.
As my volunteer experiences to date go, I can say that this one year was probably lent itself more to growth and learning than contribution.
It was certainly a year I look back on in the last decade where I recognise the noticable growth - me within myself, within the Toastmasters environment and through comments from those around me i.e. friends and family.
I still cringe when I look back on videos of that year and even more so earlier on in my public speaking journey - but as they say, that's growth. Holding a mirror up to ourselves and others every now and again is also pretty powerful. Over this period, the power of the camera proved to instrumental in documenting this transformation journey every fortnight, highlighting that a picture does indeed tell a thousand words.
Find out more about Trojan Speakers - https://www.facebook.com/TrojanSpeakers/
Toastmasters International - https://www.toastmasters.org/
Rupa Datta was President of Trojan Speakers 2017-2018. At the time of writing she is the club's Immediate Past President