Thursday is normally the one day of the week that I dread. It is meeting day. Regular cross-team meetings, but for some reason all of mine are on Thursday. It is sort of like ripping a the band-aid, best to do it all at once.
Today, however, a few of my regular meetings got canceled. I normally have weekly one-on-one sessions with the members of my team, and several of these meetings are scheduled for Thursday. Because many people are out for the RecSys conference, these were canceled. I look forward to these meetings so I hate to miss a week. This is when we can do some low-key brainstorming. I work with a bunch of brilliant people, so we often go off on intellectual tangents. Often, these sessions lead to our best ideas. I listened to an interview between Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Howard Stern this morning, and Joe Perry described how he and Steven Tyler wrote their best material. It was the two of them, a guitar, and a drum kit (who knew that Steven Tyler was a drummer?). If you want to get really creative, go for a walk with a really smart person without an agenda.
I did, however, take advantage of this big opening in my schedule. I’d been meaning to get together with THE VEEP to discuss a few things, and shot THE VEEP and an email to see if I could get on his calendar sometime in the next few weeks. THE VEEP was at my desk in 5 minutes. We had a good discussion, and it reminded me of an experience from last year. There is a family at my child’s school who own one of the top restaurants in Oakland. At the school auction last year we bought a private dinner cooked by the owner of Bellanico. The dude is an awesome cook. So awesome, in fact, that he started a restaurant where he is so busy doing management work that he rarely has the time to cook. The same is true when you are an executive at a software company – the best programmers are promoted so that they no longer have time program. When you get them alone for 5 minutes you realize why they got in that predicament – they really know their stuff. Allegedly Bill Gates is one of the greatest programmers of all time, but I don’t think he does it much anymore.
Unfortunately my meeting with THE VEEP caused me to miss part of a special event at LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of those places with sufficient cachet that people sometimes show up on their book tours. We’re not as cool as Twitter. We don’t get Vladmir Putin, the Pope and Will.I.Am all in the same week. We do, however, get people that care about the transformation that is happening in the workforce and labor economy all over the world. Today we had Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York, on campus to talk about her new book and how also how to raise your voice. It was refreshing to hear her candid take on Washington. She brought up a conversation from early in her House career that really resonated. A senior member of the House told all the newbies to make sure their schedulers respected the family time on their calendar. Senator Gillibrand could very well be President of the United States one day (she has that vibe), but that quest doesn’t define her life or rule her day.