It was early 2007 – I was working as a product manager in Bellingham WA … mostly focused on education and technology projects.
My current boss, Larry, was taking a different role – he would become my peer – and a new VP had just been hired. I’d just had the first meeting with the man who would be my new boss: Joel Zucker.
Larry wandered into my office and asked how it went with Joel. (First meetings with new bosses are, obviously, a big deal.)
So I told him: went well. I showed him the cheat sheets I had prepared for Joel overviewing all major products and projects at a high level: financials, units, progress, plans. Larry looked at my sheets, smiled.
“That’s the difference with you. You prepare.”
I went on to have a great relationship with Joel. I worked closely with him for two years until he left the company for another role. He promoted me to Director of Product Development. And I stayed close with him as he died of cancer. I’m still connected with his wife on Facebook.
And it all started with a great meeting – for which I had prepared.
Most meetings you go to, people just show up. They come from whatever work they’ve been doing, and they come in without context, without opinion, without position.
When you prepare, you have all those, and you have the opportunity to contribute … and contribute publicly. Both are important. You’ve got just as much if not more work than they do. But even a few minutes reviewing the agenda so you don’t come in cold is huge in your ability to influence the meeting and present yourself positively.
I was just reminded of this recently in another meeting. With another boss. With another cheat sheet.
And now I’m reminding myself again: prepare!
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