29. Be Too Busy to “Do Coffee”

You should be too busy to “do coffee”, while still keeping an uncluttered calendar.

Be too busy to “do coffee” while keeping an uncluttered calendar

Naval: Then we squander our time with the death of 1,000 cuts. Another tweet I had was, “You should be too busy to do coffee, while still keeping an uncluttered calendar.” People who know me, know that I’m famous for simultaneously doing two things. One is having a very clean calendar. I have almost no meetings on it.

There are people that I meet with, when they see my calendar they almost weep, while at the same time, I am busy all the time. I’m always doing something. It’s usually “work-related” but it is whatever the highest impact thing is that needs to be done at that time and that I’m most interested or inspired about. But the only way to do that is to constantly, ruthlessly decline meetings.

People want to do coffee and build relationships, and that’s fine early in your career when you’re still exploring. But later in your career when you’re exploiting, and there are more things coming at you than you have time for, you have to ruthlessly cut meetings out of your life.

If someone wants to do a meeting, see if you can do it with a phone call instead. If they want to do a phone call, see if they can do it with an email instead. If they want to do with email, see if they can do with a text message instead. If they’re text messaging, you should probably be ignoring most text messages unless they’re urgent, true emergencies.

One has to be utterly ruthless about dodging meetings. When you do do meetings, do walking meetings, do standing meetings. Keep them short, keep them actionable, keep them small. Any meeting with eight people sitting around at a conference table, nothing is getting done in that meeting. You are literally just dying one hour at a time.

Nivi: “Doing coffee” reminds me of a old quote, I think from Steve Jobs, when they asked him, “Hey, why doesn’t Apple come to conventions?” Or “Why don’t you come to my convention?” His response was, “Well, then because we wouldn’t be here working.”

Naval: Yeah, I used to have a tough time turning people down for meetings, but now I just tell them outright. I just say, “Look, I don’t do non-transactional meetings. I don’t do meetings without a strict agenda. I don’t do meetings unless we absolutely have to.”

Nivi used to do this. He would email people when they would ask Nivi and I for a coffee meeting, to get to know you. He would say, “We don’t do meetings unless it’s life and death urgent.” And then that person has to basically respond, “Yeah, it’s life and death urgent” or there’s no meeting.

People will meet with you when you have proof of work

When you have something important or something valuable, other busy, interesting people will meet with you. Your calling card has to be, “Hey, here’s what I’ve done. Here’s what I can show you. Let’s meet and I’ll be respectful of your time if this is useful to you.”

I find that there are very busy important people who will take your meeting, but you have to come with a proper calling card. All the people who tweet and who email famous or rich people saying, “Hey, if I could just get one meeting with you,” and they’re vague about it, they’re not going to get anywhere in life.

You have to build up the credibility. When, for example, an investor in the tech business and the venture business looks at a startup, the first thing they want to see is, they want to see some evidence of product progress. They don’t just want to even see a slide deck, they want to see a product progress, because the product progress is the resume for the entrepreneur. It is the unshakable, unfake-able resume.

You have to do the work. To use a crypto analogy, you have to have proof of work. If you have proof of work, and you truly have something interesting, then you shouldn’t hesitate to put it together in an email and send it to somebody. Even then, when you’re asking for a meeting, you wanna be super actionable about it.

Networking is overrated even early in your career

But I would say, even if you yourself haven’t made it yet, if you think you’re going to make it by going out and networking and doing a whole bunch of meetings, you’re probably incorrect. Yes, networking can be important early in your career, and yes you can get serendipitous with meetings, but the odds are pretty low.

As we spent time talking about earlier, when you are just meeting people and hoping to get that lucky break, you’re relying on Type One Luck, which is Blind Luck, and Type Two Luck, which is Hustle Luck.

But what you’re not getting, is Type Three or Type Four Luck, which are the better kinds where you spend time developing a reputation, working on something; developing a unique point of view, and being able to spot opportunities that others can’t.

A busy calendar and a busy mind will destroy your ability to do great things in this world. If you want to be able to do great things, whether you’re a musician, or whether you are an entrepreneur, or whether you’re an investor, you need free time and you need a free mind.

Chapter 30 >>