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Five ways to have more productive team meetings

Productive team meetings isn’t an urban legends, no, they actually exist. If you want to have meetings that follow Steve Jobs’ method, here is how to actually implement an effective plan.

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More productive team meetings

You’ve heard all of the advice about meetings – hold stand up meetings in the hall, invite only essential personnel, invite everyone, have snacks, nix snacks, use technology, don’t use technology, but only one thing holds true – with more productivity surrounding your company’s meeting process, there is more doing and less meeting. Period.

While some people reference Steve Jobs or Donald Trump as the inspiration for their meeting style, there is so much more context than simply a single quote from each as to how they run their own meetings. And their process wasn’t born overnight, it was through trial and error, just as yours should be. If you’re a florist in Nashville, having a Boiler Room style environment won’t have the same impact as at a financial firm on Wall Street. And if you’re a fast paced public relations team in D.C., a touchy feely 30 minute team building meeting every morning will hurt your business.

So how do you decide what to do for more productive team meetings? Andy Bailey, serial entrepreneur who is the CEO and Founder of Petra Coach, an entrepreneurial coaching firm offers some pointers.

Bailey affirms that Steve Jobs had a unique meeting management style, wherein only the brightest minds who are directly involved with the project or topic of discussion are invited to attend; anyone else will be asked to leave.

“Do I agree with Steve Jobs’s meeting management philosophy?” Bailey asks. “50 percent of the time, yes.”

Bailey outlines the two primary types of meetings, with Jobs’ philosophy applying to the second:

  • Update or rhythm “huddle.” These are short (typically 15 minutes at the most) meetings, we call them huddles, where everyone meets to discuss four primary check-in topics: 1. What’s up, 2. Stucks or needs, 3. Goal or project fulfillment reports, and 4. Daily top priorities. These to-the-point meetings keep everyone on the same page, establish routine and create accountability. It’s key that everyone from the janitor to the CEO attend a huddle.
  • Strategic challenge-solution meeting. These are more in-depth meetings that require the brightest and most in-tuned team members who can directly affect the mechanics of the business. This is Steve’s type of meeting.

Five ways to have more productive strategic challenge-solution meetings

With that in mind, Bailey offers the following five guidelines in his own words, to ensure your strategic challenge-solution meetings are purposeful and effective, “the way Steve would want them.”

1. Start on time. So often, meeting times end up being more of a suggestion than a rule. I see it all the time. Focused members arrive as scheduled and then wait for everyone else to show up. Subsequently, as if their time wasn’t already wasted enough, those punctual people are then forced to round up the troops. How stupid is that. Further, by continuing this cycle of accepting late arrivals you enable the slackers and perpetuate the faulty system. After all, why would people show up on time if they know someone will come get them and be their personal calendar alert? “It’s ok. Andy will come get me when it’s time to actually start the meeting…”

2. End on time. If you say you will end a meeting at 11 a.m., do everything in your power to end the meeting at 11 a.m. If you abuse the privilege of taking up other’s valuable time too often, you will consequently lose it FOREVER. If you must run over, you must get a consensus from the group that the subject matter you’re discussing is important enough to yield additional time. If it’s not—shut up and end the meeting.

3. Present an agenda. Don’t waste meeting time thinking about why you’re holding the meeting in the first place. Know what the meeting is about before you start it. Have a set agenda that describes the orders of business and follow it. Remember: No agenda. No attenda.

4. Delineate an expected result. Share your desired outcome at your meeting’s commencement—Put it in writing if you have to. “We are here today to XYZ.” By doing this you give those in attendance a true reason to be there and a purpose to work toward.

5. Set them free. Often times, meetings have subtopics that are only relevant to a handful of attendees. Schedule those discussions later on the agenda so those not involved may leave. Makes sense, right? Right.

The takeaway

To emulate the Steve Jobs method, don’t go into it blindly. Follow Andy Bailey’s advice, and be mindful of the details, because the truth is that Jobs was extremely detail oriented, practicing for an upcoming speech over 100 times before hitting that stage – put the work in so that your meetings look effortless, and create more opportunities for your team to be productive.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roland Estrada

    November 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Nice post. I’ll add a correction of sorts base on what I have read of Steve’s meetings. People within Apple and agencies that delt with Apple new that there had better not be anyone in a meeting that didn’t belong there – small groups of smart people. The best book I’ve read on the these insights is “Insanely Simple by Ken Segall”. This is a must read for anyone that wants simplify the way they do business.

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Business News

Too connected: FTC eyes Facebook antitrust lawsuit

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following other antitrust hearings, we’re expecting to hear more about the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, soon.

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Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device.

Facebook might be wishing it had kept the “dislike” button.

On September 15, the Wall Street Journal announced that the Federal Trade Commission was preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against the social media titan. Although the FTC has not made an official decision on whether to pursue the case, sources familiar with the situation expect a determination will be made on the matter sometime before the end of 2020. Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment when asked about the story.

The news comes following a year-long investigation by the FTC that has looked into anti-competitive practices by the Menlo Park-based company. This past July, the United States House of Representatives held hearings in which they grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook regarding their business practices. In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also testified in front of the FTC as part of the department’s antitrust probe into the organization.

The FTC seems to be especially interested in Facebook’s past acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which they believe may have been done to stifle competition. In internal emails sent between Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former CFO David Ebersman back in 2012, the 36-year-old seemed worried that the apps could eventually pose a threat to the social media conglomerate.

“These businesses are nascent but the networks established, the brands are already meaningful, and if they grow to a large scale the could be very disruptive to us,” Zuckerberg wrote to Ebersman, “Given that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we’re vulnerable in mobile, I’m curious if we should consider going after one or two of them.”

When Ebersman asked him to clarify the benefits of the acquisitions, Zuckerberg stated the purchases would neutralize a competitor while improving Facebook.

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t the first time the FTC has investigated Facebook either. Last year the agency fined the company $5 billion for the mishandling of user’s personal information, the biggest penalty imposed by the federal government against a technology company. As a part of the settlement with the FTC in that case, Facebook also promised more comprehensive oversight of user data.

If the FTC does pursue an antitrust suit against Facebook, it could end up forcing the social media giant to spin off some of the companies it has acquired or place restrictions on how it does business. Considering how long it will take to file the litigation and prove the case in a courtroom, however, it seems that Zuckerberg will once again be “buying time.”

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Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.

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Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?

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Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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