Happy Hours Are Meetings

Many people ask me how I’m able to attend many events, how I’m so prolific, and how I have time to tweet so much. The answer is pretty simple: I hate meetings.

Truly, I avoid meetings at all costs. It’s practically my mission in life. Luckily I have a career and lifestyle that allows me to do so. And this allows me a lot of time to read, think, and write original material.

But today I had a number of meetings. There was a meeting of our research center based around an intern’s foreign policy talk in an auditorium, an emergency meeting about task forces in my director’s office, and an impromtu meeting of three people in the hallway to talk about websites.

What was interesting about the third meeting was that we stood the entire time, and it took about two minutes – but was no less meaningful than the other two. And that got me thinking – why are meetings typically one hour, sitting down in a room, discussing a list of issues typed on sheets of paper? Really, they don’t have to be at all.

So deconstructing the idea of what a ‘meeting’ is got me thinking that I don’t so much avoid meetings, as avoid useless, boring meetings where nothing of interest to me will get accomplished. As the great business blogger Seth Godin has noted, who decided meetings take an hour anyway?

Lots of people have noted my propensity for attending happy hour on a regular basis. But it’s not all fun and games – often the person or people I’m with have some relevance to my career. And so isn’t hanging out with a socialite blogger over glasses of red wine at Proof in Penn Quarter, or having bourbon and cigars with a fellow Government 2.0 maven at Shelly’s Back Room in downtown DC just my personal way of conducting productive and fun meetings?

Maybe I shouldn’t sell myself short on the CEO route.  Wouldn’t you like to work for a company that let you think about great stuff all day, and handled the ‘meetings’ over a magnum of Cabernet or a casual pool tournament?

Happy hours are meetings. Think about that the next time you ask me about my avid social life – It’s also my avid workaholic lifestyle.

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This post was written by:

Mark Drapeau - who has written 225 posts on Dr. Mark D. Drapeau.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Jesse Thomas Says:

    that would make a great shirt “Happy Hours Are Meetings”

    37signals has some great thoughts on the toxic meeting topic as well, http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch07_Meetings_Are_Toxic.php
    http://www.37signals.com/svn/archives2/meetings_considered_harmful.php

  2. Sarah Bourne Says:

    Meetings are the death of productivity! I’ve been trying to make meetings more useful: scheduling half an hour unless someone provides compelling need for longer, no agenda=no meeting, and create the agenda on a wiki. I’ve actually been able to cancel a meeting because we got everything done on the wiki. If it happened once, it could happen again, right?

  3. Teri Centner Says:

    Great observations! My overseas assignment at a Joint military command for the past five years has provided me with experiences that have led me to think similarly.

    HQ USEUCOM sponsors an exercise in Europe known as Combined Endeavor, or CE. (http://www.combinedendeavor.net/) In the past 10+ years, they have found that both professional *and* social interaction is required if we want successful working relationships among coalition partners.

    And it looks like our Canadian partners agree. An article on their website at http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/commun/ml-fe/article-eng.asp?id=3282 notes, “The human interoperability aspect of CE is what everything depends upon; making social interaction vital to the success of the exercise.”

  4. Justin Thorp Says:

    At Gov 2.0 Camp, someone asked me what my favorite social media tool was. I said beer. :-) Hell yes. Happy hours are meetings.

  5. Mark Drapeau Says:

    Thanks for all the comments and links, everyone.

    @Justin – Q: “What’s your favorite social media tool?” A: “Beer.” (Love it!)

  6. Kate Says:

    Happy Hours ARE meetings…

    Just like a ton of work gets done on the golf course, work gets done at social functions! Because WORK is all about RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, and would you rather take a phone call from (or do a favor for) the guy who bought you a beer last night, or the guy who just handed you a business card across a boardroom table?

  7. Mark Drapeau Says:

    Kate – So true! Work, and especially career development, is about building relationships. Web 2.0 technologies make that easier, but I tend to think that people who network well on Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the same people who network well in real life (once they learn the new tech!).

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