Episode 47: Jedi Strategies for Meetings That Will Grow Your Brand

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Brace yourselves for today’s heart-stopping topic: meetings. Yup, we all love to hate them. But here’s the thing: Bad meetings can hold your business back, and effective ones can fuel success. PostPilot co-CEOs Drew and Michael swear by the EOS Level 10 framework. This week, they brought on EOS implementer Derek Anderson to dig into why the system works and how it can help scale your business.

Guest Speaker: Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson is a Professional EOS Implementer. As a Professional EOS Implementer, he helps leadership teams get better at doing three things for their company which they call vision, traction, healthy—getting everyone 100% on the same page with where the company is going and how they're going to get there.


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Read the Transcript ↓

Hey, one of the keys to my success in turning around a number of DTC brands has not been Facebook funnels or how I subject line my emails or any of that. It's been how I run a team. And I think part of my secret sauce has been able to be dropped into an organization and pretty quickly get the team executing well and executing quickly. The key to that, I think, is having some discipline around meetings and goals and how you build a culture. And so in today's episode, I wanted to go deep on some of that.

We wanted to talk a lot about how to run meetings, how to make your approach to meetings a bit of your secret sauce. And I asked Derek Anderson, who's a leadership coach and traction EOS facilitator, to join us for a conversation around meetings. Hope you enjoy it. Derek, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Sure, Drew, happy to. When I give talks to groups of people, maybe this is just the easiest way to do it. I usually start off just with a short little intro saying, just so you know, there's an FBI hostage negotiator, a Catholic priest, and a Vistage Chair or the chairman of a CEO peer group in the room with you. And usually one of two things happens.

Most people are staring intently at me looking for the punch line, or they start kind of quickly glancing around the room to see who's in the room with them. But essentially, that's my leadership background and training. It's wild, but at the same time, it's been such a blessing and be able to help so many people. And now I get to continue my own personal mission of helping other people, really good people do good things as a Vistage Chair and also as an EOS implementer. So we can all have confession at the end of the episode, which would be great. There we go. Well, great. Mike and I are really excited to have you on, Derek, because I think one of the keys To our success over the years has not been our ability to optimize a Facebook ad funnel or send out the right email campaigns. I think if it were one thing that we've been able to do really well, it's build teams that can execute well and execute fast.

I mean, our backgrounds and corporate turnarounds, I'd love to get into that. How do you build a good team? How do you build a remote team? How do you run a meeting? And maybe we start there with meetings. It's like the top question we get. People sort of laugh at us when they say like, well, what was one of the keys to success to turning around auto anything? And I think it was like how we decided to run meetings. In the world of EOS, we run and help our clients run better weekly meetings, what we call level 10 meetings. It was a revelation to me and I thought at first, well, I don't really get it. Originally, when I ran meetings, I was guilty of showing up two minutes late, leading these long hour and a half, two hour, two and a half hour meetings where I think people wanted to run out to the roof and jump off by the end of it. Or we got so lost in big, meaty issues that we had in front of us, but it just kind of was a whirlwind and we walked out having lots of discussion, but very little resolution.

Working now with clients and helping them run better meetings, it's really, I think, a hard skill set that you really learn. We call them level 10 meetings in the world of EOS because on average people rate their meetings probably around a four, maybe a five, and we want to lift those meetings up to a level 10. By the end of the meeting, everybody walks out the door like, yes, that was a highly productive meeting. That was a great use of our time on a weekly basis. We're all on the same page moving forward over the next seven days and just reduce the noise, the chaos and the hiccups and make sure that we're walking out having dealt with the most important things for that week. That's critical. I've been on the bad end of it, bad leadership end of that, and now it's a joy to be able to help people run good meetings and gain a lot more traction because that's ultimately where your vision starts hitting the ground and gaining traction in those weekly meetings.

I guess I'd start by asking why have meetings at all? Because I feel like in the startup world, there's this idea that probably put out by 37 signals, I don't know if you've read any adjacent freed stuff, that just meetings are bad. It's just too much bureaucracy. They interfere with your deep work.They should be abolished and everybody should go asynchronous. I think bad meetings are bad. In fact, bad meetings are horrible. They're not just bad. They're absolutely horrible. They're morale killers. It's a waste of time. Like I said, I've been on the giving end of that and the receiving end of that, and they are no fun. Once you actually get to experience a highly productive meeting and you're actually on a highly successful and producing team that communicates well, that prioritizes well, and has a high level of trust, then you really have the nuggets of what makes a really good, highly effective meeting. It just saves you so much time and so many useless conversations and hours in your week going forward.

I disagree with them, but I would say that if nobody has experienced a good meeting, I can understand where in the world they're coming from saying meetings are a waste of time. What makes a good meeting? What's the level 10 look like? A level 10 follows five very simple principles. We meet on the same day at the same time each week. We follow the exact same agenda. We start on time and we end on time. Those are really the five foundational things. I think some of the keys to running a great meeting is the team itself has to have, number one, a high level of trust in one another. They need to also be able to develop the skill set of being able to prioritize. I think that's a really important point that is not spoken about as it should be spoken about because we found that even great leadership teams have a tendency to get in the room. They have a meaty issue and they just dive in and they start discussing, discussing, discussing, and there's very little solution or an action item that comes out of that that's going to solve that issue they're talking about in the long run and just set it up and knock it down and make it go away forever.

They keep having these repeat issues in the same discussions and it just seems like things are not being solved. Being able to prioritize what are the most important things to be talking about and then really with discipline, get in there and talk about them. We follow what we call the IDS. First I, which is identify the real root cause and D, then once that's identified, you end up discussing it. Once discussion starts to become redundant, you move to S, which is solve. What's the actual action that's going to come out of this? Who's going to be responsible for it? Any cascading messages that need to be identified and discussed? And then there's an accountability seven days later when the meeting starts again, you're going through your reporting and make sure that all the to-dos are starting to getto done. I think for us as practitioners, there was the helpful part in the weekly cadence where you review all your core metrics, then the prioritization part really hits home. Meetings tend to suck because they get sidetracked. The lunches in the lunchroom suck and then you just talk about that for 20 minutes instead of talking about the top priority for the company.

If you've never tried the level 10 framework, this idea of whenever somebody goes off tangent, you have the awareness to say, hey, that's an issue we need to discuss later. You drop it into an issues portion of the meeting where you then dedicate the time to sorting those issues and only talking about the top two or three each week. In other words, you don't just like talk about something because the CEO brought it up or because the loudest person in the room brought it up.You're very disciplined in sorting your priorities and discussing them. Correct. Yeah. Meetings can be fun if there is discipline and those things are not mutually exclusive. There are ways to maintain the discipline with a level of fun and that kind of maybe depends upon the leadership team or the group that's meeting. Certain things that I do is you can buy those little buzzers from like Staples.We have the tangent button that auto anything. If somebody went on tangent, we'd hammer it and it was like this obnoxious loud buzzthat got everybody kind of like laughing. Exactly. That's it. We also have little stuffed animals. They symbolize different things.

You can have a cow and it symbolizes the sacred cow so somebody can pick it up and throw it at a person like, listen, you're protecting the sacred cow instead of considering the greater good of the organization. You got a little bull, somebody starts BSing too much and you toss it their way, like, All right, knock it off.Let's get into it. You brought up trust.Why is trust essential to a good level 10? If you don't have trust, you're really not going to have good conflict and a good healthy conflict is essential for growth of a company. Healthy conflict is the conflict of ideas. It's not the conflict of persons. It's not the name calling type of conflict. You're going to have people that are really adverse to any kind of the notion of conflict. When you have an actual healthy conflict on a team, people feel comfortable to be able to speak their ideas, to come up with new and innovative thoughts and they know that, hey, I'm not going to just be laughed out of the room, that I'm really trying to help the team move forward. There has to be a level of trust in each individual to bring their best. When somebody floats an idea and there's just silence in the room, those are little yellow flags that should be waving in your mind saying, you know what? Do we really have the level of trust that we need to break through each ceiling? I definitely find that that comes from leadership.

Say the CEO and the CMO can start pushing back on each other's ideas. I think everybody else in the meeting realizes that that's acceptable. When that's invited and explicitly stated, that's a sign of health. I used to tell my team too over and over again, listen, I want you to fail. Get out there, do things, come up with ideas, stay innovative because then you're pushing the envelope. I don't want you to just simply play it safe. So I expect you to fail and I will never laugh or mock or get upset with anybody who's tried something new and failed.I would say moving to the level 10 was probably one of the most effective things we did. We make the Lord of the Rings joke like it's one meeting to replace them all. Another thing we would always say is like everybody should probably have, or at least our managers should have two level 10s. One is with everybody they kind of report to and the second is with their team. Do you see that as how a lot of organizations approach it?

When you're able to have very disciplined, highly effective meetings, it's a time safe. The time you invest in 90 minutes once a week, you walk out the door and it saves you hours and hours of all these other discussions. And then you have one discussion with one person and on your leadership team is a direct report and then you forget to have the discussion with everybody else on your team. And so then it's a communication chaos, you know, feeds into more problems and it's an energy suck. It's a time suck. It's a morale suck. It's, you know, it just sucks. So having the level 10 meetings first with your leadership team and remembering, hey, this is team number one. This is the most important team before my departmental team. I'm operating at that level and I'm bringing that down then to my own team and my own department. As a manager, if all I have to do is really have two meetings each week, one of them say a 90 minute meeting with the leadership team and then a 60 minute meeting with my own team and we're all on the same page and you're telling me that's going to give me multiple hours of time back into my week.I'm all over that.

A lot of traditional meetings turn into like status updates and you just go around the room and everybody just wants to talk and say what they're working on. It doesn't necessarily impact what the rest of the group is doing or necessarily warrants discussion among the entire team. Whereas with the level 10, the general format is starting with the core KPIs that you know you want to be monitoring every week. If you know you're off track, you know that that's something that potentially warrants further discussion, making sure that everybody is actually on track. And again, not necessarily requiring everybody to talk through everything that they've done that week to further their rocks or their OKRs, but only to identify if something's actually off track and needs further discussion.

Again, that's how we start in the EOS world. The opening part after you kind of have your initial segue and people get a chance to share maybe some personal and professional bests, you move into just pure reporting mode. Working with my clients, that's one of the most difficult things because you can have something that's off track or on track for the week. And usually somebody wants to talk about it. Even on the good things, like, hey, we had a great win. Well, know that the discipline is just report out what is on track and what's off track. Then we can get into it. And that way you stay on track as a team and as a company. That is the most difficult time. You know, in a meeting, you're just biting your lip or biting your tongue. I'm not going to talk about it right now. We'll drop it down into the issues list. And the lion's share of the meeting then is dealing with those issues. And the team will prioritize which issue is the most important before you start just diving into any and all issues randomly.

That creates a real pathway forward that people want to come back next week to your meetings.But they have to be facilitated with discipline. Once you get the client bought into the level 10 and they're executing the level 10, wheredo you typically see it come off the rails? First of all, it takes a little bit of getting used to. I'd say after maybe a month of doing it or maybe two months of doing it, they start getting a little bit sloppy in the reporting only phase, which is that first phase. Because everybody wants to, you know, if there's a win or a customer headline that needs to be shared, instead of succinctly stating it, they give you the whole story behind it and what happened and sooner or later, you're five, seven minutes on one thing that's supposed to be a headline. So it just kind of gets a little bit sloppy. That starts to reduce the rating at the end of the meeting when people go around rating it and they're like, well, you know, we could have kept this a little bit tighter.

You know, a second one is going to be actually when you get down to your issues, people instead of identifying the root cause, I had mentioned that IDS acronym, identify, discuss and solve, instead of spending time intentionally, like put a circle around the word identify, you know, put an arrow next to it, highlight it, whatever it might be, put that one word up on the screen and to remind people this is the stage of where we're at with this particular issue. We've prioritized what are our top three issues. Now we're going to deal with number one. What's the most important one? Now we've got to identify what is the root cause of this issue? What's behind or underneath this issue that's really causing us pain? Go around the room, have people succinctly state what they think it is. Once that's done and the team kind of comes to some kind of consensus, yeah, we think this is what's the underlying issue, the root cause of it, then you put up on the screen, discuss.

We want to talk a little bit about this world of remote work. I would say 80% of the companies I interact with every day are all remote. Does that change anything in terms of how you would approach implementing EOS? The short answer is no, as far as implementing. You can implement EOS 100% virtually. You just need to be a little bit more sensitive to you lose the in-person elements. You have to be extra attentive to the level of trust that's on the team because once you close down the camera, somebody was maybe afraid to speak up during or ask a question during the meeting, get a clarification, and they could have that clarification if they talked to somebody on the way out of the meeting. Well, you don't really have that unless you actually go and set up another phone call or Zoom meeting, whatever it might be. I think paying extra attention to the level of trust, making sure everybody's cameras on, everybody's fully engaged, people aren't looking away and kind of doing email on the side, I think those are really important.

That also in turn goes back to the way that you're facilitating meetings. How do your FBI negotiation skills play into how you operate?How did that lead into your career as an EOS implementer? In that world, you learn the skills and it's just part of your everyday life. It becomes kind of the part of the air that you breathe. I found it extremely helpful with being able to really listen to people. We talked about that identify element in issue solving process, identify the root cause, to really listen well to people, to ask the right questions, to stay curious is critical. When you start staying curious and you're asking the right questions, you can really identify maybe the root pain that somebody is actually facing. You really kind of position yourself to be in a place to help them in a more meaningful way than other people. It's actually a great tie into the level 10 meetings is that you were saying earlier, sometimes you have to bite your lip a little bit because a lot of people are just sitting through meetings thinking about what word they want to get in or what they want to say and not enough time actually listening.

That's what ultimately leads to understanding and getting to those root causes of actual problems that the business is facing. This would be a good thing to end on is kind of when to use a facilitator like yourself and how can companies that are listening to this and CEOs get in touch. Our target market in the EOS world are companies with say 10 to 250 employees. That's really our sweet spot as working with implementers and that's just some nice parameters there. There are clients that are under 10 employees and other clients that are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of employees. But that's really kind of our sweet spot and I think when companies get to the point where they're feeling too much pain and they want help, they look at EOS as a system and they might be able to think, hey, we can do this. And yes, there are a lot of companies that self-implement. Implementers work professionally trained to do this. This is going to help you get to your goal faster.

The other thing too is for companies that are self-implementing, the advantage of having an implementer there is the one who's self-implementing, usually typically the leader, your CEO or your COO in the company, gets a chance to sit on the other side of the table and join the rest of the team. That's really important to a lot of the clients that I've found as well. As far as being able to reach out to me, just my own personal website there is DerekAnderson.IO and that has all that contact information for both Vistage and also EOS. I really appreciate you taking the time, Derek. Great to be on here with y'all and I appreciate the invitation and I love talking about EOS and great opportunity to be able to do so and if it helps other people run better meetings and improve their companies, I'm really glad to have spent the time with you here today. We could talk about meetings all day long. Right, we could have a meeting about that.

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