Meetings. “None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

Best quote ever from www.despair.com. And how true it is.

There are several kinds of meetings and there are many variations thereof. If you are lucky, you get an agenda in advance and some type of objective/reason you are meeting. If you are very lucky, the agenda goes as planned. If you are very very lucky, you actually achieve the objective you wanted to achieve, assuming there was an objective in the first place.

What typically happens, you are attending a meeting with a regular vague agenda; one that requires everyone to provide an update on their projects, tasks, etc.. These are typically a waste of time since no one really understands the detail of the content unless they really need to so. The people that do understand what you are talking about are already close to the subject at hand and do not need the general group update.

I understand the need for people to come together and meet. As human beings, we have to come together and make decisions or discuss things. However, where it starts to fail is with the actual execution of a meeting. Even if you aren’t in the corporate world, I am sure you can relate to this:

Where do you want to eat?
I don’t know, where do you want to eat?
Wherever you want.
Do you have a taste for anything?
No, do you?

And so on. This is between 2 friends trying to figure out something simple like where to eat dinner. Imagine a group of 10 people that are most likely not friends (and may not even like each other at all), trying to solve a complex issue. It starts to sound more like this:

There is a big problem that we have to discuss as a group.
We need your help since we cannot make this type of decision on our own.
We are going to recommend some options and we intend to come up with a solution!
But before that, I will be sharing 55 Power Point slides with the background.
(On slide 1, debate ensues)
Well, we had discussed that in our last meeting but you weren’t there.
Well I don’t agree with the facts.
So that makes our recommended solution useless at this point.

End of meeting. Typically these last an hour or more. This is time out of people’s lives that they will never get back. Keep in mind, that getting ready for this meeting involved countless hours upon hours of preparation with many people from all functions of the company. These “decision-making” meetings typically result in the leadership team sending the working team back to do more analysis. Better yet, more analysis with a complete change in scope. They usually have an acronym with “LT” in them (i.e., leadership team),

In addition to these common corporate “decision-making” meetings, my other favorite kind of meeting is the “Town Hall” meeting. Most corporations act like they care about your opinion and hold “Town Hall” meetings. This typically consists of several high-powered executives getting up in front of a large audience with Power Point presentations detailing old financial information (since nothing current can be revealed due to regulatory restrictions) and what we will do to resolve any “gaps to plan”. This also usually involves charts with so much information that no one can read. They usually state that as well, “Now, you can’t read this, but…..”. Again, none of this is at all relevant since the data is 3 months old.

An entertaining part of these types of meetings are the “Q and A” portions. I love when people (typically from the outside of the corporate office, a.k.a., “the field”) ask questions that will never be honestly answered such as, “Will our location close?” or “Are our jobs safe?”. Seriously these happen all the time.

But I still have to comment about regular project team meetings. My calendar is filled with them. Actually, most of them, I schedule and lead but I am still aghast at how much time is wasted. I follow all the rules; I put out an agenda in advance of the meeting, I solicit participation, I “go around the horn” and have everyone speak up at the end and I always publish notes with actions and due dates. But it doesn’t really matter. People forget the context and most likely weren’t paying attention anyway so none of it actually entered their brains. I literally have to tell people to stop typing and multi-tasking if there is something I want them to actually absorb.

To be fair, I catch myself doing the same things.  I ask the same question every week and sometimes repeat things that have already been said earlier in the meeting.  Weeks after a decision was made I question the reasoning and take us back to explain for the tenth time why the decision was made.  I know I am a guilty party.  I am on my iPhone and checking emails during meetings like everyone else.

How to solve this dilemma? If I had the answer, I wouldn’t be sitting in a cubicle after work hours writing this blog post making fun of our corporate world. I believe we have to laugh at the craziness around us to survive. People that take themselves too seriously are the ones to stay away from, in my opinion.  But then what do I know?  Maybe we need a meeting to discuss…..

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It is spelled T-O-B-E-Y.

When thinking about naming your baby, there are many things to think about.  My name is Tobey.  I now love my name and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Perhaps the irritation and embarrassment during my formative years made me a stronger person, but you really never know.

Per www.babycenter.com, there are 8 pitfalls to watch when you name your baby.

  1. The nickname trap
  2. Embarrassing initials
  3. A lifetime of corrections
  4. Overpopularity
  5. Problematic name pairings
  6. Humiliating email handles
  7. Names not to live up to
  8. So-so meanings

The one I am specifially referring to is #3, the constant spelling and explaining your name.  This is a daily occurrence for me:

It is spelled T-O-B-E-Y.

Yes it is a girls name.

No it isn’t short for anything.

You really don’t realize how many times you have to state your name, but it happens often.  I also know that Toby is a very common cat or dog name, since many people feel compelled to mention that after I tell them my name.  Thankfully for them, I like animals.

How rare is my name?  In 2011, per www.babycenter.com, there were 3 girls named Tobey out of 1 million babies born.  That is pretty unique.  Spelled as Toby (traditionally the “boy” spelling), there were 3 other girls given this name.  Now what about a more common name, Jennifer?  In 2012, 50 babies out of 1 million were named Jennifer.  Sound too low?  Well, that is because that is for the boys named Jennifer.  So people name their boys Jennifer almost 17x more than people name girls with my name, Tobey.  Seriously.

On the site www.babynames.com, the top 10 name list for boys and girls (20 total names) really contains 28 total names, with all of the different spellings.  For example, Aiden is a popular boys name, but it can be spelled 3 different ways.

Poor Ayden will be really screwed and will probably hate his parents for some time during his childhood.  If Ayden is a super-cool popular kid, he may surpass the teasing, but that is not likely.  Every kid gets teased and you will not avoid that, but putting the errant “y” in names is simply annoying in my opinion.

Thankfully, I was not a heavy girl, or else I would have been nicknamed, “Tubby” until the end of time.  My parents didn’t know this.  They also didn’t know about the TV mini-series, “Roots” that plagued me annually, in which a slave said his name was Toby (as he was being whipped and asked, “What is your name?”).  Perhaps they did not cross paths with any of the countless cat ladies that named their beloved tabby cat, Toby.

I don’t blame them for not knowing any of these things, especially since the speed at which they obtained information in 1971 was a little slow; I mean they only had 3 TV channels to watch.  Also, they were young and relatively inexperienced with the ways of the world.  That all being said, I think they did a tremendous job.

However, YOU have 100’s of TV channels, the internet, with Facebook, Twitter, etc., at your disposal for research and consultation.  You had better make sure your kid is going to be OK living with an odd/different name.  Here is how I would go about it:

  1. Mention it to a few people first.
  2. See what their reaction is.
  3. Assess that reaction.

If they say, “What?”, or “How do you spell that?”, you may want to reconsider naming your beautiful baby boy Kayden (that errant “y” and Kardashian “K” is just way too much).  Stop the madness, please!

P.S., As an added blog bonus, you have to go to www.babynames.com/Jennifer-Moss/  and read the letters to the Founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, where she “answers your questions about names and naming”.    They are hilarious.  Some are a little pathetic, e.g., “I am not a mother yet, but plan on being one in a few years….”.  She goes on to explain her “problem” with liking ethnic names but not looking “ethnic”.  Seriously?

Or how about this one, “I am 3 months along and trying to pick out baby names… If it’s a girl I like Emmalin…Do you think this is an appropriate name or too out there? Also, would I spell it Emmalin, Emmalynn, Emmalyn or otherwise?”.  Wow.

And by the way, do you notice her name?  “Jennifer” is your expert on naming babies.  How is she qualified to answer questions on “Emmalyn or Emmalin?”  By the way, the expert answer was “How about Emmaline or Emmalina (to rhyme with [the mother’s] name)?”.  Jesus.  All that woman needs is another 2 choices.

OK I am done, although I could read those letters all day.  What an added bonus!