Steve Blank you are not important to me but I want to meet you


If you are a busy startup founder, you probably delegate the task of scheduling key meetings on the things you want / need to your administrator. This is a mistake.

This is because the dialog you have in the meeting setup is actually the first part of your meeting, not an office task. Treat it this way and you are much more likely to achieve the goal you hope for. Here's why:


A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend of VC asking me to speak to a founder of one of his startups. The founder had sent him a note: "We'd love to partner with Steve to get his frames and models from his books – The Four Steps and The Starter Owner's Manual – on our product. Can you connect us to him? "

I told the VC, of ​​course, and emailed the founder suggesting a few dates.

In response, I received an email from him telling me how busy he was, but his administrator would coordinate certain dates for us …

If it doesn't seem like the red flag of a relationship that was broken before it started, and if an opportunity was lost, let me report what went wrong past.

Who makes the request?
Outside of a business, there are two types of meetings; 1) When you want something from someone, 2) When they need something from you. This meeting fell into the second category – a founder wanted something from me and wanted my time to convince me to give it to him. Transferring the schedule to an administrator may seem effective, but it is not.

What message are you sending?
A startup CEO handing me over to an administrator sent some signals.

First of all, that whatever his request was not really urgent or important to him. Second, he didn't think it was useful to build a relationship before we met. And finally, that he hadn't understood that collecting data in the pre-meeting dialogue could help him achieve his goal.

Instead, skipping the individual dialog to personally organize the meeting signaled that our meeting was simply going to be a transactional request that was worth no initial investment of its time.

Why, then, is the meeting worth it?

What is missed
When I was at the start, I treated every pre-meeting email / phone call as a customer discovery opportunity. If I wanted something from someone – an order, funding, partnership, etc., I worked hard to do my homework and prepare for the meeting. And that preparation went beyond just looking for mutually agreeable meeting hours.

At the start of my career, I realized that I could learn a lot of information through the dialog before the meeting. This first email dialog formed the basis for opening up the conversation and establishing a minimum of social connectivity when we first met.

I have always managed to interrupt a series of informal questions when I organized a meeting. "What type of food do you like? Do you have a favorite restaurant / location? "If they were to leave town for a while, ask if they are traveling on vacation? If yes, ask "where?" And talk about the holidays. And most importantly, it allowed me to confirm the agenda: "I would like to talk about what our company is doing …" and wire part or all of the request, "and what I can see if I can get… ”. Sometimes these round trips allowed us to skip the meeting completely and I got what I wanted with a simple request by email. At other times, he laid the foundation for an ongoing business relationship.

the The main difference with this approach is to understand that the meeting setup dialog is actually the first part of your meeting.

Of course, in a 1,000-person business, it is possible that the CEO is too busy to receive an email or call someone whom he wants time for each meeting. However, CEOs of large winning companies will receive a phone call or send a personal email when they want something to happen.

Lessons learned

  • The meeting setup dialog is actually the first part of your meeting
  • Don't miss the opportunity
  • If you want something from someone, don't outsource your meeting planning

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