Respect Other People’s Time and Plan Ahead



Fairly frequently, maybe every few weeks, I get an email saying either:

Hey, I am in town tomorrow, do you have time to meet?


Hey, my friend John is in town tomorrow and wants to meet you, do you have the time?

Honestly, I absolutely hate these emails. And I don’t hate a lot, I really don’t.

But these emails drive me crazy. Here is why:

  1. Well, of course I can’t meet because I actually plan my days, and I am busy meeting other people and doing my job.
  1. The assumption that I would have time is kind of insulting, implying that I am sitting there and waiting for these emails to come so that I would have something to do.
  1. But the worst part, is that it actually shows lack of thoughtfulness and empathy on the part of the founder, or whoever sent the email. It shows that they don’t value me or my time, that I am kind of an after thought, a filler meeting.

Maybe I am overreacting, but this is honestly how I feel, so I am writing it down.

I don’t think this is the right thing to do, and I would say that even asking to meet next week is pretty tight. It really is. People’s schedules are pretty full for weeks.

This is exactly why I plan work and all my meetings far in advance.

For example, we book Techstars mentors in NYC to come see companies 1 month in advance. We schedule Fred Wilson, David Cohen, and Brad Feld to speak to the founder 2-3 months in advance. We know these folks are super busy and their time is very valuable. Thats why we work hard to think it through how to get on their calendar in advance, and be respectful of their time.

And then in general, just because you are coming to town, it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to fill up your schedule. You don’t necessarily need to catch up with people you’ve not seen in a while, or try to jam pack your days with meetings just because you have time.

This is probably counter to what most people do, but why not catch up with people when you have a reason to, and do it when you have a reason, not when you are in town.

I recently made a business trip where I only met with a handful of people and worked the rest of the time. Because my schedule wasn’t as packed I was able to spend more time with people who I really needed to spend time with. And I also got a bunch of work done, so it didn’t feel like I lost 3 days of work.

In the day and age where we constantly in touch online, it is not necessary to artificially jam our days during the trips with meetings. Leave a little more time for people you really want to meet with and get some work done.

Why don’t we all become a bit more thoughtful and respectful of each other’s time.

This is particularly important dynamic for founders who are building companies and building relationships with investors, business partners, engineers, etc.

Be more thoughtful, deliberate and get an edge just by planning a little bit ahead.



Reprinted by permission

Image credit: CC by David Lofink

About the author: Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director of Techstars in New York City.

Previously Alex was Founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv),  founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM), and Chief Architect DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO).

Alex routinely writes about entrepreneurship and startups at Alex Iskold.

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