Smart Lemming Diary: Are Meetings Productive at the Executive Level?

Businesspeople on meeting

What do executives do all day? They’re always in meetings, so what are they meeting about? Is this a best use of their time? The answer is “yes.”

Below is my journal entry from a typical Friday when I was a VP of Sale Operations and Marketing, having non-stop meetings and phone calls.

July 29, 2006

My former colleague finally said “Yes!” After dealing with the counter offer and trying to secure this candidate, I have emailed my former boss to follow-up their initial outreach. The jury’s still out on how angry this person will get, if we’re successful in poaching the other Rock Star Sales person. When can this Rock Star join us? We’re making an offer on Monday.

Will our key Channel partner really acquire us? Not sure, but we’re submitting our response to their request for information on Monday or Tuesday.

Friday is always my fun day of the week in the office. I try to get most of my work and major meetings done Monday through Thursday, since we have at least two to three formal and informal executive team meetings. I know that I’ll have at least two or three one-on-one meetings with my through the course of a day, but yesterday was unusually busy. Here was the time line of my Friday:

7:00 am: I wake up, make my coffee, drink my Adkins shake and take my vitamins, head down to my home office and start reading work and personal emails.

8:15 am: I forward the recruiter’s VP of Marketing job description with contact information to my former boss’s work email and say, “I’m forwarding the attached email to you. I need to reply to this recruiter today, but I intended to forward her to you instead. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll bcc you on my email to recruiter.” I’m trying to soften the blow that I may have caused my old boss this week. My old boss did some outreach with me over a week ago. I responded with a voice mail on their work phone on a Sunday night to avoid contact.

8:20 am: Right away my old replies back to me, “Hi Lori, I appreciate you thinking about me and the networking is always good. It was nice to hear from you the other day, too and I hope we can connect sometime before you depart for NYC.” Whew. This makes me feel some relief because I do want to have interaction with my former boss. I remain tentative because I know that we’re closing on my old boss’s top Sales person very soon. Recruiting from my former employer feels like a non-linear equation I’m trying to solve.

8:30 am: I get ready for work.

9:00 am: I commute to work and listen to an audio book.

10:00 am: Arrive at work, boot up my computer, as my CEO walks into my office, and then asks, “Did you get your coffee yet? I shake my head. He says, “Let’s walk to Starbucks.” I’m thinking, “Our CTO must have told him that a recruiter contacted me, so my CEO wants to know what I’m doing with the information.”

10:55 am: I’ve updated my CEO on my week, ranging from associates having meltdowns on the phone to updates on my candidate to a recruiter calling me. I inform him of my interactions with my former boss. He doesn’t ask me anything else; we just catch up on his week on the road.

11:00 am: I have my Sales meeting with the Sales team. My CEO and Controller sheds light on what the Sales team is not doing, prompting private meetings between Controller and myself, then CEO and myself, and then all of three of us. It becomes clear that our Sales team hasn’t sped up their 30-60-90-120 day closes. We’re trying to determine why without pointing fingers at Sales individuals.

11:45 am: During my Sales meeting, my former colleague calls me to tell, “I’m coming on board!” She proceeds to tell me that she wants to be professional, so she won’t share the details until we get some private, off work time to discuss the final details. I ask, “Can I go public with this?” She says I can.

Noon: I go back into my meeting saying, “I have an announcement to make. I’m pleased to announce that my former colleague is joining our team. She’ll be in charge of Channels.” The CEO and Controller are pleased. The Sales team is also happy because they’ve also worked with her.

12:30 pm: I call the other recruit, letting her know that my new Channel Director finally joined our team. I tell her the name and there’s silence. “Oh my God, that’s a coup for you! Congrats. I’m so excited…Thank you for considering me for the job, now let’s figure out what else I can do.”

12:45 pm: Controller and I go down to the cafe to grab lunch. The cafe owner knows I like the French Dip special on Fridays, so she has it ready for me, along with my Skittles. We return to the office to work on our offer for the Sales Rock Star that we’ll present to our CEO at our 2:30 meeting.

2:30 pm: Controller, CEO and I meet. First, we review the request for information that our Channel partner wants from us. This info is part of the pre-acquisition information request. We transition into the offer for the rock star. We know her compensation, so the Controller and I recommend we increase by 25% of her current salary, plus stock. My CEO tells us he needs to think about how he wants to bring her in. He’s listened to my recommendations on team configurations. He realizes that he won’t have the bandwidth to manage all of sales.

3:45 pm: CEO and I have an informal chat. I tell him about my talk with my new Channel Director and with the Rock Star. He starts telling me that he doesn’t time to manage Sales. I reply that the Controller’s been helping me think through options for us. I tell him that I’ve created the repeatable sales operations processes and that if he needs me to, I’ll manage Sales for him. He likes the idea and says, “I know you weren’t interested or comfortable with taking all of it back in February, but now I’m hearing that you’re ready.” We leave it at that for now.

4:15 pm: I begin working on the executive team edits to the information request that could prompt Letter of Intent. I work on it until 6:30 pm.

6:30 pm: I commute home. My cumulative commute time for this week was over 12 hours.

I’m pleased with how the week went. This week took forever to get through because of holding pattern my candidate put us through, receiving a call from a recruiter, doing calculus with my former boss over my recruitment tactics, keeping the Rock Star up to date as our next hire, and trying to get through the wire frames for my new startup project. I’m glad it’s the weekend.

Food for Thought

When you see your management team gathering in meetings, they may look like they’re just hanging out having fun. They probably are having fun, if their experience is similar to mine.

While my experience at the C-level is probably atypical, this was a typical Friday for me, filled with back-to-back formal and informal meetings. Executives also busy discussing issues they’re trying to solve and staffing issues or problems. They’re solving critical Sales issues that affect your company’s revenue. They’re trying to make key hires for gaps in their teams.

But they’re also probably determining the fate of your company.

The Smart Lemming Diary is a series that chronicles a journey of laid-off worker, who becomes a Vice President of Sales Operations & Marketing for a small entrepreneurial healthcare technology company. For previous entries in this series, click here.  For the first diary entry, click here. For the highlighted Smart Lemming Diary entries, click here.

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