Laughing at Myself

Being new to this snazzy blog thing, I just realized that there is an area where my comments are moderated that “suspicious” comments are held for me to review.  I just had to share this one comment that was left on my “Grades: They Really Do Come Back to Bite You in the Butt” entry:

“This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. You’ve got a design here that’s not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what you’re saying. Great job, indeed.”

I was super flattered at the nice comment and have to admit I was doing a dorky little dance inside. “Wow,” I thought, “Adding hashtags to my tweets must be attracting nice readers that I don’t even know to my little blog!”

And then I noticed the name of the commenter… Penis Enlargement.

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Do you want to meet to talk about our meeting, before the meeting, but then have a meeting after the meeting about the meeting?

Raise your hand if you hate meetings.

Okay, lower your hand and pretend that you’re not the nerd who just raised their hand while reading my blog and pretending to work. If I were going to make up some sort of scientific poll, I’d say that 98% of people hate meetings. In fact, if you google “I hate meetings” you get 22,800,00 results (in 0.17 seconds) on the subject. On a related note, one of the suggested searches that comes up when you enter “I hate meetings” is “Death Meetings”, which is just weird.

Most people hate meetings because many times nothing gets decided and you just end up scheduling another meeting to discuss the subject some more (hmm…maybe that’s where “death meetings” comes up, as in I’m going to actually die before something gets finalized in a meeting.)

In a recent frustrating example, I had a meeting scheduled with the proper decision makers but only one of them showed up on time. It took us about 10 minutes to track down the rest of the people, and then another 10 minutes was spent chatting about why they were late to the meeting. When we finally got to the point of the meeting (a time sensitive topic that needed to be finalized that day), they decided to call in a couple more people to ask their opinion.

Spoiler Alert: Nothing was decided at that meeting. At all. In fact, a list of additional questions was created to research before… you guessed it, scheduling another meeting to talk about it.

Are you slamming your head into your keyboard yet? Does this sound familiar?

As a marketing guru, I can honestly say that I’ve been involved in some of the most ridiculous meetings known to man. People not showing up, the office dog walking around with his ‘red rocket’ out, extremely offensive jokes, personal hygiene issues, porn popping up on the computer screen behind them — these are just some of things that people seem to think are acceptable.*

Here are some tricks that I’ve found really do help make your meetings go smoother:

Have an agenda and stick to it. Send the agenda out to the meeting attendees before the meeting so that everyone knows what to expect. If you have a decision that must be made, put that on the agenda.

Show up on time and encourage everyone else to do the same. Much like my pet peeve of people who rush through writing their emails, when you show up late to a meeting you’re letting everyone else know that you think your time is more important than theirs. Everyone in that room knows what you’re doing and just to let you know, we all think you’re an asshat.

If it is going to be a long meeting, assign someone the job of being the “dead horse beater”. Yes, it sounds gross and there is probably a better term for it, but this person’s job is super important. When the meeting just keeps going in circles without any decisions being made, this person speaks up when you’re beating the proverbial dead horse and guides the meeting back on track.

Make an action list and make sure that someone is in charge of each item on that list. It’s very easy to walk away from a meeting with a list of things that were discussed, and then throw it on your desk to have it buried within a couple hours and never thought of again. If you’re the person who called the meeting, make it a habit to create a quick list of tasks that came out of the meeting. Every single item on the list should have someone’s name next to it that’s in charge of completing that item. If there is a deadline involved, add that to the list so that everyone is clear on your expectations.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to say that the tips above will solve ALL your meeting dilemmas, it’s just not true.  If I added up the amount of time over the past decade that I’ve spent in unproductive meetings I’d probably cry at the days/weeks/months of my life that were wasted.

However, by having a confident attitude and a clear plan, your chances of running a productive meeting are greatly increased. Of course, you could kick it up a notch like this hilarious Careerbuilder commercial: 


*Yes, I realize that you’re now hoping that I write a blog post about the time that porn popped up on someone’s computer screen while I was meeting with them. If this is really of interest, leave me a comment and I’ll write it up. Also, to those people who know me in real life, this was NOT at my current job!  

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A Rambling Post About Complainers*

Be warned, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post. It started out being about how some people really can find anything to complain about, then turned into a reminder about how communicating with your customer makes for good customer service. I think I still have ‘vacation brain’ with my thoughts flitting around and just ending up on tasty frozen drinks.

Anyways, I was reminded yet again on this year’s cruise that some people are just never going to be happy. You can put someone on a beautiful ship and provide them with tons of delicious food available 24/7, fun entertainment and amazing weather. However, you’ll still have people who are going to find something to complain about.

In our case, there was an obnoxious guy whose complaining caught the attention of one of our new friends. He could figure out ways to complain about anything and wasn’t shy in sharing his thoughts with anyone around. Nothing was good enough for this guy, and one of the things that he was annoyed about was that our ship was late into a port.

Now, everyone was a bit put off that the ship was late, but you are traveling by boat so weather does sometimes play a factor in how long it takes to get places. (There was a rumor going around that we were delayed because the ship waited for a couple who was late coming back from Disney World, but does it really matter why we were late?) Anyways, you can deal with the news by bitching, complaining and stomping your feet because your excursion was cancelled. Or you can accept it and enjoy the rest of the afternoon laying around the pool and drinking fruity drinks. I’m obviously in the fruity drink category.

In fact, most everyone was in the fruity drink category (oh yeah, it’s a thing now). Yes, most excursions were cancelled that day because we were a couple hours late. However, the cruise director noted in his announcements that all money would be refunded automatically so that nobody had to waste their time standing in line at the excursions desk. So, why bother getting all worked up about it? Frankly, it was kind of a bonus that $64 was refunded to our credit card and we got some extra time lazing around in the sun.

Showing that they care about the guest experience**, the cruise line tried to nip any discontent in the bud by not only making refunds painless, but also by offering another [unfortunately more expensive] excursion option. This notably lightened the mood around the pool and everyone seemed fine with the change. I mean, you’re on vacation and not working, that’s pretty much just a whole suitcase full of rainbows and butterflies right there.

However, there is always going to be someone who isn’t happy. And for some reason they tend to be the loud people that we all try to ignore. I’m pretty sure it’s not just me that always seems to know a Debbie Downer-type of person who can turn winning a new car into something to whine about.

I’ve had people complain to me about the fit of their company-provided polo shirt, the menu choices at a free event, their options for a holiday gift, even the venue choice for a tropical company trip to the Bahamas. Yes, people complain about these things. And no matter what you do in life, there is SOMEONE out there that isn’t going to be happy.

It’s really hard for me to just ‘not care’ and go on my way, because as a marketing person I have this innate desire for everyone to be happy with what I’ve worked on. However, I’m trying really hard to stay over here on the positive side of the street. When I hear someone start complaining (and believe me, it can start from anything!) and I want to stick my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalala” at the top of my voice, I just smile at them and listen to what they have to say. Most times they just want someone to listen to them complain. Then I shrug it off, walk away… and take my frozen margarita with me.

* In hindsight, I guess this post is really just me complaining about complainers. lol

**See I told you I’d get around to a whole different point in this blog post…rambling, rambling, rambling…

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