Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shut Your Damn Laptop

I recently gave a short talk in front of about 150 people in my company. The goal was for those of us that went through a 6 month leadership training to tell the rest of the company what we learned and about our "breakthroughs", or things on which we hope to help lead change.

As you know, I am a planner, so I wrote my speech out ahead of time and practiced it in front of the mirror. I always do that. It doesn't ease my nervousness, but it does mask it so others don't notice it so much.

Well, I thought I'd share my speech. Many of you will see some of the concepts I've learned and blogged about mentioned. Here goes:

The title of my breakthrough is "Shut Your Damn Laptop".

To be honest with you, I was not very inspired or excited coming into today and in fact, I didn't even have a story to tell until early this morning. But in preparation, I decided to think about what it is that I got out of this training, what are the things that I will take with me for the rest of my life. And there are 3 main concepts that stick out.

First, is the concept of other-centered listening. You have seen what happens when you actually listen intently and with interest to another person. The energy and enthusiasm goes up drastically. I will be a better listener.

Second, is the concept of planning and follow through. I need to send an agenda if I'm running a meeting, or know what the agenda is if I'm not. I need to come prepared with what I'm supposed to. I need to take notes and commit to action items. And I need to follow through on those commitments. Building better processes and communication for this planning and follow through is something I commit to doing.

Last, and this was the biggest one for me, is the concept of generative coachability. You may be coached by a person, or attend a training and be coached by the instructor, or in some cases you may BE the coach. Well, generative coachability is the ability to coach yourself. To figure out what it is that you can get out of everything you do. This is how I want to live my life. I want to learn something from everything I read, everything I watch, everything I do and participate in to make me a better, smarter, more well-rounded person.

Now, these 3 things have something to do with my breakthrough. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting. It was a brainstorming meeting where we were to come up with new ideas around our upcoming outbound marketing campaign. There were about a dozen people in the room, and if I said 6 people were participating that would be stretching it. The others were staring at a blank sheet of paper, or out the window, or frantically typing on their laptops. And it bugged me. And you know what I did about it? Nothing.
I continued participating and we actually came up with some good ideas, but I didn't do anything about what bothered me. And THAT bothered me too. I thought about it all day and that night, and when I came in the next morning I talked with a few people that I really respect their opinions about it. In telling them how it bothered me and that I wished I would have said something I realized a few things. 1. I did have the authority to say something. 2. I should have said something. and 3. I will say something from now on.

Now, I don't want this to turn into, "Oh no, I'm going to a meeting with Betsy. I better pay attention and not bring my laptop". But I have to wonder. What would have happened if everyone in that room was engaged and participating? What could we have come up with? And what would happen if every meeting here was like that? What would it be like?

Well, I stand for better communication. And since meetings are a huge way we communicate around here, I stand for better communication in meetings. And I will stand up for that when I need to.

But, that is not all. If you are ever in a meeting with me and I am not fully engaged and participating, I give everyone in this room permission to say to me, "Betsy, shut your damn laptop!".
It went over well and I am glad that I stood up and spoke (it was optional). Maybe public speaking is not so bad and I will give even bigger things a try (yes, Emma, I'm talking about Ignite). Maybe...

...QueenB Says


  1. This is genius. After leaving our joint employer, I went to a place that had a 'leave your laptops in your office' policy, and it made a difference in the level of engagement.
    Sadly, the topics people were engaging in still had very little to do with what we were actually trying to accomplish.

  2. Also? I'm not giving up on Ignite. Obviously.