How (NOT) To Run A Startup Team Meeting

It’s 8.30am in a crowded East London coffee shop. You are struggling to make yourself heard against a back-drop of constant heavy traffic and thundering rain. Your co-founder, as far as you know, is either still in bed, or hasn’t got back from celebrating Friday night yet. You last saw him wearing white gloves and a high-vis jacket on his way to an illegal rave – perhaps that’s him over the road drilling a hole in the pavement – either way, he’s giving you a headache.

You look across the table at the two devs you hired after a HHH Speed Pitching night. Perhaps you should have waited until the morning before you drew up and signed their contracts – instead of doing it at half past three in the am with your pants round your ankles, after “doing it” on the office photocopier.

And why did you ever think you would need a photocopier! You are a disruptive tech startup for crissakes – you may as well have bought a typewriter and one of those pencil cases that come with a protractor, a compass and a triangular ruler.

And who is that guy slurping his way through a spyra-gyra smoothie – the 14-year-old with the bald patch in the high chair– oh, no, it’s not a bald patch, it’s his haircut! And what is that in the CTO’s checked shirt pocket – is it a bit of his beard – omg its moving – aaargh! It’s a giant spider…oh no, its…it’s a dog? A merkin? Nope, definitely a dog/rat/thingy.

Right, pull yourself together man! Control. Aura. Presence. Are those the names of Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s kids? No, they are the qualities you must display – you can pull this off – PMA! This meeting is gonna rock! Rock!

The agenda? You’re firing the child and the dev with chlamydia? Shhiiiiittt…who wrote this…..?

“Ok team”, you say, “housekeeping”.

“I don’t like it”.

Who the Jobs & Wozniak is that? Why is he dressed like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever?

“Travolta John, Missad Ventures. Good to meet you – your co-founder said I should start attending meetings – here’s my card.”

Blooming Nora – it’s your new investor! Why is he smiling? On a Monday? Ah, he must be an American!

“Hi Travolta, great to have you with us”, you lie.

“Great to be here – say, it’s a little hard to hear you over that drill and the rain but did you say “house-keeping” – I don’t like it”.

“You. Don’t. Like. Housekeeping?”

“No sir, not unless I’m calling reception and asking for an extra pillow if you know what I mean/ Eh! Eh!”

“I have no idea what you mean”, you tell him.

“Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter…f*cking English prude”, Travolta mutters. “But it’s not the pivot I want”.

“The pivot”

“Yeah, like Danny, your co-founder said”.

“David?”

“David, Danny – the guy with the beard and the bad teeth – he agrees with me we need to pivot, but not to a house-keeping app…didn’t you read about HomeJoy? There’s too many of them and their finished.”

“There’s too many of them and they’re finished?”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever – so what you got for me?”.

“O-ooh, the pivot – well the thing about that is, sorry Deborah, sorry – errm, what did you say your name was again? Keith? Ha, sounds like an old man’s name – sorry from this angle you look kind of like an old, bald man in a wheelchair. Anyway, you’re fired, sorry.”

“I am an old, bald man in a wheelchair”.

“Sorry? You wha…You are an old, bald man in a wheelch…oh, my gosh…sorry in a minute you’ll be telling me that thing in his pocket is a giant spi…woah…wooooaaaaaahhhh!!!!”

You come to. You’re in a nightclub. There’s a mojito in your hand. You are gurning. The trainee marketing guy must have spiked your drink. Again. It’s 8.30am on a Monday. You have 13 missed calls from your co-founder.

Oops. This is bad – still, at least David/Danny knows the drill.

“Oi, mate”, says an unseen voice – can you take that hi-vis jacket and the white gloves off – you’re disturbing the people in the coffee shop.

“Huh…H…Hard-house-keeping”, you reply, dazed.

Keep on hustlin’

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