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September 21, 2021
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Today, we've crowdsourced a guide for making your exec meetings better than ever by asking top tech leaders for their best pieces of advice.

The Ultimate Guide to Running Executive Meetings — 25 Tips from Top Startup Leaders

When you wade into the waters of executive meetings, there are all sorts of choppy waves that can throw you off course. Just to name a few — there's a limited window of time to cover pressing topics from every corner of the business and the agenda is jam-packed. When wrestling with thorny challenges, heated debates can quickly derail the conversation without a resolution. Annual plans are crafted with care, but without rigorous focus, the business can lose steam.

“Executive meetings take up a big chunk of time and energy for everyone in the room. The last thing you need in the midst of all the other challenges of running and growing a business is for that meeting to become a bad recurring experience,” says Anne Raimondi, COO of Asana.

Whether you're a first-time CEO or a seasoned startup exec, executive meetings are tricky to get right. To more clearly sketch out the do's and don'ts, we’ve spent the last few weeks reaching out to some of the sharpest startup leaders we know for their best piece of advice for running executive meetings.

The responses we got back were top-notch, with a fountain of advice that breaks the mold from a group of leaders hailing from top startups like Superhuman, Lattice and Codecademy.

If you’re a first-time founder who’s never sat in the CEO’s chair before, there are tons of tactical suggestions for sidestepping common executive meeting potholes — from questions to ask yourself as you’re first designing the meeting, specific frameworks for deciding what makes it on the agenda, to tips for sharing the findings across the entire org. Even if you’re a seasoned exec who’s been sitting in these types of meetings for years, it’s a read that will hopefully spark some new ideas to bring to your peer group.

We hope the below list provides a detailed guide for constructing your own inspiring, effective executive meetings. Thanks, as always, for reading and sharing!

-The Review editors

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Here's a sneak peek at the tips and tactics: 

Limit the number of people in the room from the start — you can always add more later. But if one day you decide you want to go from an eight-person meeting to a five-person meeting, that’s a lot harder to do retroactively, because people don’t like to feel like something’s being taken from them. -Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit

Once you get to a certain stage, it’s important to not review the same metrics every meeting, because those metrics don’t meaningfully change week over week. People will go on autopilot as you just skim through the dashboard. Instead, I recommend rotating which OKR you review each week, as a forcing function for deeper thinking. -Allison Pickens, The New Normal Fund

My staff meetings used to be two or even three hours and we had all sorts of problems. Some people would do the homework, some people wouldn’t. A huge amount of time was simply wasted communicating what an idea or a problem was — not discussing the idea or a solution. Now, if you have not read and commented on the pre-read document beforehand, you’re not allowed to talk about the topic in the meeting. -Rahul Vohra, Superhuman

I find a lot of CEOs are not good at running an executive team meeting. For a while, I owned the meeting because I thought it’s what I had to do, even though I wasn’t good at it. I learned pretty quickly it was the wrong approach. -Zach Sims, Codecademy

When you see the beginnings of healthy conflict, you should lean into it. Say, “That’s interesting, this feels productive. Let’s talk about it.” It signals that you’re intentionally fostering different ideas. -Jack Altman, Lattice

Trending this week — Review Reads:

The Minimum Viable Testing Process for Evaluating Startup Ideas
The traditional approach is to do some customer research, throw an MVP out there as fast as possible, and hope it hits. After being early at three startups, Gagan Biyani has landed on an approach that’s quite different. 
Advice for the Pre-Product/Market Fit Days — This Founder’s Playbook for Pivoting with Purpose
"Most startup advice out there is post-product/market fit, but it’s dangerous to take that advice when you’re still pre-PMF" Tara Viswanathan will steer you in the right direction.
Navigating the Leap from Big Tech to Startups — Advice from a Former Google and Flipkart Exec
Punit Soni cut his teeth as a product leader at large companies before venturing out on his own to found Suki, a healthcare startup. Here, he shares what aspiring entrepreneurs should consider as they look to make a similar leap from big to small.
Hit the Emotional Gym — The Founder's Framework for Emotional Fitness
Psychologist and founder Dr. Emily Anhalt shares her seven traits of emotional fitness, why they're crucial for founders right now, plus concrete tactics for shaping up your emotional health.

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