Nilofer Merchant is a Stanford lecturer, director of a NASDAQ-traded company and a huge practitioner of holding meetings as she power walks outside the office. Merchant says her productivity and wellness have both improved by bringing her direct reports along on power walks to discuss any number of business-related topics.
I've been doing the same thing for years, albeit through different means. Like Merchant, I deplore the countless, chair-bound meetings that permeate American business & industry. And, like Merchant, I believe some of my most creative thoughts arise when my mind is uncluttered by the confines of the workplace and fully engaged in vigorous exercise.
So, I accompany my Peppercomm cohorts as we partake in everything from:
– Kickball (we're a two-time play-off contender, courtesy of Coach Timmy Mambort)
– The UnCorporate Challenge Race (created in protest to the horrific J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge Race and highlighted by the Cody-Kolek blood match
– Three-times-a-day power walks to, and from, one client's HQ's on the other side of town (hey, they need a lot of hand holding).
While we may not discuss business when our heart rates are skyrocketing north of 155 beats per minute, our group DOES catch-up on important stuff immediately afterwards (often fueled by a pitcher or two of Stella Artois).
Within the friendly confines of Peppercomm, I also interact daily with my podmates in a way I believe would put a smile on Merchant's face. My podmates include: Kendyl, K.T., Brenna and Colin 'Bigfoot' Reynolds (pictured). And, their pod is situated directly outside my office.
So, unlike just about every other corporate executive I can think of, I treat my podmates as peers. In fact, we refer to the space as OUR pod. And, I make it my business to wade into its midst each, and every, day, to find out what's new with my mates. I've found that my pod has become a great, early warning detector of all things good, bad and ugly at my firm. And, guess what, none of our conversations would qualify as regularly scheduled meetings.
We may not bench press 400 pounds or run sprints up and down the hallway, but I learn as much from my podmates as Merchant does from her power-walking peers.
So, do yourself a favor. The next time you, and the team, have a meeting to discuss IBM's global want and needs, take it outside. Power walk to the nearest park and do a few laps. I guarantee you'll be more creative, come up with a few, new ideas and maybe, just maybe, shed a few inches along the way.
(Oh, and if you really want breakthrough results, treat them to a Kangoo class with Mario Godiva. You, and they, will never be the same.)
And a tip o' Repman's cap to Julie Farin for suggesting this post.
Agreed, Kendyl. We definitely lucked out with our pod leader. Speaking of fish tanks, can we change the status from imaginary to real?
Thanks Kendyl. I also enjoy making the other pods jealous of what we have and they don’t.
Love this post, Steve. After working at bigger firms where the CEO and Managing Partners had no clue who worked for them and couldn’t remember employees names even after multiple projects together, it’s nice to share a POD, some inside jokes and even an imaginary fish tank with the boss. We are happy to have you in our POD.