A conversation with Darren Chait, Co-Founder & COO of Hugo

I was at a conference last year pre COVID, and this lady came up to me at a conference booth and said, “Oh great. I just read your book 10X Culture and it’s fantastic timing because we’re about to redo our culture.” And I had a little chuckle to myself, like she was about to paint her living room. Like you can just transform a company culture overnight, but as we both know, and I strongly believe to be the case, culture is really just the sum or the aggregate of the people in the organization. You can’t change your culture without changing all your people or the way they operate, the way they show up.”-Darren Chait

In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Darren Chait about his experience building productivity software for teams. We discuss the link between bad meetings and bad cultures, how productivity software has changed in the past 5 years, and his unconventional point of view on the return to work post covid. Listen in to learn about ‘killing meeting sacred cows’, communication bandwidths, and empowering people to work when they’re most productive. 

Show Highlights

[1:30] How Darren Got Started Building Team Productivity Software

[6:20] Why Culture Is The Sum Of The People Of An Organization

[16:00] Why Collaboration Dropped Off During Covid[23:40] How To Address Meeting Culture Change

[30:00] How Do You Best Use Great People

Darren on LinkedIn

Hugo on LinkedIn

Hugo on Twitter

Darren on Twitter

About the Guest

Darren Chait is the Co-founder and COO of Hugo.  Starting his career as a corporate lawyer in sunny Sydney, Australia he made the move to San Francisco to start Hugo with a longtime friend, following years of shared frustrations with unproductive meetings. Darren also writes for Quartz, The Next Web, Thrive Global and numerous blogs, has appeared on well known podcasts and speaks at conferences around the world.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Douglas:  Welcome to the Control the Room podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures for the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

Thanks for listening. If you’d like to join us live for a session sometime, you can join our weekly Control the Room facilitation lab. It’s a free event to meet fellow facilitators and explore new techniques, so you can apply the things you learn in the podcast in real time with other facilitators. Sign up today at voltagecontrol.com/facilitation-lab. If you’d like to learn more about my new book, Magical Meetings, you can download the Magical Meetings quick start guide, your free PDF reference with some of the most important pieces of advice from the book. Download a copy today at voltagecontrol.com/magical-meetings-quick-guide.

Today I’m with Darren Chait, the co-founder and CEO of Hugo. Hugo improves meeting productivity for teams. It connects to your calendar, centralizes notes and tasks, and integrates with critical work apps. He is also the co-author of 10X Culture. Welcome to the show, Darren.

Darren:  Thanks very much. Thanks for having me.

Douglas:  Oh, absolutely. Let’s start off with how you got your start in creating productivity software for meetings.

Darren:  Yeah, sure. So I’m actually originally Australian, as you can hear, but lived in the Bay Area of San Francisco for about five years. But my background’s as a corporate attorney. Don’t hate me for it. I spent the first four years of my professional life working in corporate law. And what that means, in my eyes, is I was essentially a professional meeting attendee. And the worst thing about being a lawyer, or at least being in professional services, is when you have those really inefficient wasteful meetings, you can actually see the cost of it in dollar terms, because you charge clients for it. And I remember walking out of some of these meetings, where they would have six or seven of us for many hours, and nothing was really agreed, nothing was really moved forward, and you’d see the bill in the thousands and thousands of dollars. And that blew my mind.

And at the same time, there was a lot changing about the way we worked in the modern workplace, but meetings hadn’t had any innovation. We were still meeting the same way. Everyone had to be there on the call or in the room and if you weren’t in the room, you got no value. And as soon as the meeting ended, most of the value dissipated. And I would regularly complain to my co-founder, Josh, who was a really good friend at the time, and he would share similar experiences from his world as a product manager in San Francisco. And we decided, this is a problem we’ve got to solve. That was the real impetus for us to start Hugo.

Douglas:  And what year did you found the company?

Darren:  So we founded the company in the U.S. in 2016.

Douglas:  Okay. So been at it for a little while.

Darren:  We have.

Douglas:  In fact, we were talking earlier about, over the course of five years, a lot changing in the landscape where you start looking at this pain around meetings and then you start to work and build stuff for clients and realize that there had these other needs and then the landscape changes. So curious to hear a little bit more about that.

Darren:  Yeah. It’s quite funny when you think back five years, which isn’t that long in our lifetimes at all, obviously. The way we work looks so different. I mean, from a software standpoint, Slack wasn’t prolific five years ago. Most people hadn’t really heard of Slack. And now can you imagine running a tech company in particular without Slack? So there’s the enablement side of things that’s very different, but even the environment, remote work even just a few years ago was very much a trend that a few tech companies were starting to adopt. That was really new age and really out there. And now of course, in the world where we’re living, it’s the norm and many, many other trends like that look quite different. So this meeting problem was certainly there, but the environment in which we were building a solution for was really different today to what it was even as recently as 2016.

Douglas:  Yeah. It makes me think about something that comes up so often, which is our clients will come to us and they’ll ask us if we can train them on virtual meetings and I tell them, “Well, yes, we can. But let me start by telling you that you probably need meeting training first and foremost, because no matter if you’re in person or virtual, if you’re doing things wrong, it’s going to be problematic and probably that you were just very accustomed to your inefficiencies when you were in the office and now that things are different, you’re noticing them more.”

Darren:   That’s right. It’s exacerbated the bad bits of your meetings, which were frustrating then, now making them intolerable. And I’d go one step further, which is in our experience, the companies that have wasteful meetings where they’ve got that really poor meeting culture, unfortunately often have a really poor team culture as well. It speaks for the way the business operates. So it’s not just… If you’re having these frustrations with meetings and they are really that wasteful and such a problem, I also ask the question, what other processes in your company are a victim of that?

Douglas:  Yeah. That even speaks to this notion that culture isn’t these values or things that you hang on the wall that everyone gets excited about. Or these ways we hang out or celebrate, but it’s how we show up. It’s how we show up for our clients. It’s how we show up for our employees. And so that gets at what you’re talking about around this operational or structural issues that are going to manifest themselves in the meetings.

Darren:  Yeah. You remind me, I was at a conference last year pre COVID, I guess and this lady came up to me at a conference booth and said, “Oh great. I just read your book 10X Culture and it’s fantastic timing because we’re about to redo our culture.” And I had a little chuckle to myself, like she was about to paint her living room. Like you can just transform a company culture overnight, but as we both know, and I strongly believe to be the case, culture is really just the sum or the aggregate of the people in the organization. You can’t change your culture without changing all your people or the way they operate, the way they show up as you said. So I think of that all the time when people talk about what culture really is.

Douglas:  Yeah. It’s just like, “Let’s just forklift this out and drop something else.

Man, I think the epiphany for me was when I realized how much influence structure has.

Darren:  Yeah. Yep, yep. I totally agree. The way everyone interacts with each other, reporting lines, autonomy, decision making, all of that. Yeah. Nicely wrapped up in your structure. And I think, yeah, that probably has a deep impact on culture. Totally agree.

Douglas:  It’s like who reports to who, right. Can stifle innovation, stifle communication, can create silos and eddy currents that aren’t helpful.

Darren:  Exactly. Exactly.

Douglas:  So we talked a little bit in the pre-show chat around this notion of a return to work and what it is, what it isn’t and you hinted at the fact that you had a perhaps unconventional thinking in regards to returningreturn to work. So I’d love for you to share that.

Darren:  Yeah, absolutely. If there’s such a thing. Well, when I look back over the last 18 months or so, or at least 20 months since when COVID first reared its ugly head to where we are today, we’ve really gone through stages. I don’t know about you, but as I’ve been talking to customers and partners and others in the market, we’ve seen that early, like, “Okay, this is going to be a little blip of… Man. This is a big deal as far as our team and how we work. We’re really going to have to make some arrangements to get through this.” To, “This is it, this is life. This is the new normal. Better, suck it up and move on,” to, “Well, the world’s starting to open up. What worked really well over the last year and a half. What do we want to now change and fix?”

And return to work is in that last category. You’ve got the laggards and the more conventional businesses who you never would in a million years dream of allowing their employees to work from home who have now seen the value, the cost-savingcost saving, the impact on engagement, hiring, everything that we know is remote teams. And then you’ve got the modern tech companies that were really on board with remote, but now they’re seeing the pros and cons and want to try and achieve some perhaps hybrid or not, or completely remote model moving forward. So it’s a really interesting time. Everyone’s hitting it from different angles based on their experience. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the pendulum lands from the two extremes.

Douglas:  Yeah. I completely agree that the best approach is to look at what’s worked and what didn’t work and what do we appreciate about being done.  What do we appreciate about working remotely and how can we now with these new affordances lean into the next phase, right? It’s not that, “Oh, let’s just go back to the way things were,” because I think that’s long past.

Darren:  Exactly. And I think for us, like when I think about remote, the companies that struggled the most in my experience are those that supported their office arrangements online. So we’ll talk about meetings in a moment, but everything else. The same reporting, the same processes, the same levels of accountability from exactly what happened in the office to the online world. They’re the ones that struggled. Those that stopped and said, “Okay, we now have a different workforce. We now have a team that works in a different way. What processes do we need to be able to achieve that? They’re the ones that were most successful.” So as we return to work, it’s the same thought, in this new world, what should we be doing that’s likely to have the most success rather than how can we compensate for everything that we had in the office with this new arrangement?

Douglas:  Yeah. It’s interesting that you point that out. I remember distinctly being in those early moments for us in the U.S. which was early 2020, we’re talking like early March, 2020 and things are starting to happen. I think you even mentioned that there was this period where we were like, “Oh, it’s just a few weeks and it’ll be over.” And then slowly people were realizing like, “Oh man, this is a big deal.” And you’re right. There was a camp of people that just said, “How do we just throw this online,” versus looking at the tool and saying, right, “This is the tool that I’m using. What does it allow me to do? And how do I design given the constraints of the tool?” And I even wrote about this and it got published around really encouraging people to think about designing, giving the constraints, versus trying to just say, “Hey, I want to forklift this in and jam it in to this like…” The system that maybe wasn’t designed to work in a way that we were working previously.

Darren:  Yeah. It’s so funny as well. I think about that moment. We’ve all got those moments in our life where we realize the impact of COVID and what it meant and no doubt will remember that for a long time. But for me, I sat down with my co-founder and remember, we’re in the meeting technology space, right? Hugo’s a meeting productivity hub for teams. So we really started to think, “Hang on, like, what does this mean for our business?” And I was genuinely concerned because here we are, the world’s shutting down, no more in person meetings, sales pipelines are drying up. People were fiscally concerned and not spending money. And 50% of the meetings we power are customer meetings or external meetings. So we were thinking at the time that we’re in trouble. If people aren’t meeting, how can we build a successful business selling software that helps people meet better?

And within days, as we’re watching the dashboards and ready for the meeting volumes to drop off a cliff, the opposite happened. It literally spiked right up. And that made no sense to us. How are we meeting more in a world where we can’t do these things? And as we started to understand more about the data, and I actually wrote an article [inaudible 00:12:10]Courts on this, we saw that people were taking what were normal in-personin person interactions and turning them into meetings.

The, “Hey Douglas,” across the office or “Joe Fry, I would love to see what you think about this,” was now 30 minutes on everyone’s calendar. We saw meetings with sync and update and sharing and check in, and those words flying through the roof because we couldn’t have those normal interactions where I’d quickly give you a call or turn my chair around or catch you getting your coffee. And that really, I think, made meeting health or meeting hygiene take a huge dive as COVID hit. And over time that’s slowly recovered. I think people have… Zoom fatigue is now a normal word, unfortunately in everyone’s vocabulary. But the pain of too many meetings really hurt. And that led to a course correction. But in the early days, the picking up the office environment and transplanting it online or from home, really hurt a lot of businesses.

Douglas:  Yeah. That’s interesting that specific story you just gave reminds me of an article that just came out in Nature Magazine. I know some research that was done around hybrid and remote work, and they were talking about the impacts of this continuous cycle of meetings and the cost of the context switching. And they said there was a trend of shorter meetings. So typically, in person we’d have hour long meetings, but now people were tending to 30 minute meetings and more of them. And I was wondering if that was a trend that you had noticed in your software as well?

Darren:  Absolutely. Absolutely. And they’re worse, right? The cost of two 30 minute meetings is a lot greater than the cost of one, one hour meeting. And the irony of it all is based on the state of software tools and the technology that’s available to us, we’re at a point where meetings can be reduced more than they ever have before. We don’t need meetings for that update, quick sync and sharing information like we may have a generation ago or even five or ten years ago, but the R&E we’ve seen the inverse trend, the volume of meetings arising over time.

Douglas:  Yeah. It’s really fascinating that there’s this trend to have shorter meetings because I’d much rather have less meetings, but have time to have longer, more intentional, more deeper, meaningful meetings where we’re building prototypes together and we’re getting deep into it and actually inspiring each other.

Darren:  Yeah. Well, the switching costs is fixed, right? The wind down before the meeting and winding back up after a meeting, whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour is much the same. So, much more efficient to spend more time together and then having more time to get your work done.

Douglas:  Yeah. 100%. I also saw some research recently that where they spoke to this notion that remote meetings are inherently less collaborative, which I thought was a really weird finding. But then I started thinking about this more deeply, and I think that’s going to be highly dependent on… You know what Darren? Is like, I read that and I thought to myself at first I was like, “This doesn’t add up.” But then I realized that I’m biased because the teams that I work with, we’re doing highly intentional meetings and they’re highly collaborative, right. So the research is on broad market. Who knows what tools they’re using in these meetings and how they’re being conducted. And so I think to me, what that said is there’s still a giant market of folks that haven’t adopted tools that allow them to really collaborate on complex things that require sense making. So, whether you need to visualize or align on understanding.

And so anyway, I read that. At first it was like, “This can’t be true.” But then I realized, “Wow, it’s just that there’s this massive opening. So I’d love to hear your thoughts or understanding on that.

Darren:  Yeah. That is really interesting. I do find that surprising in some ways, but again, yeah, from our world, it’s a bit different. I think it’s also got to be looked at through the lens of meeting volume. If I’m back to back all day and tons of 30 minute syncs and updates and catchups, and like what we’ve all… Or not us luckily, but many experienced early on in the pandemic. I’m going to be a lot less willing to collaborate or I’m going to try and just get through my meetings because that’s what I need to do for the day. Whereas yeah, if you’re having these super valuable meetings that all of which involve today’s discussion decision making they’re for a real purpose, the level of collaboration would naturally go up. So I wonder if that reduction in collaboration is tied to the increase in volume.

Douglas:  Yeah. That’s interesting. Man, we’re cracking a few hypotheses here that could be interesting follow-upfollow on study, right? It’s like, “Hey, can we actually do some research to see what is the truth here?” Sure there’s a finding, but what is the underlying insights because rather than just saying, “Okay, we got to bring all the meetings in person,” what’s really driving those tendencies to be less collaborative? And I tend to agree with you. I think we’re both onto some reasons why that might be the case.

Darren:  Totally. Either way. I hate saying the new normal, but we’re in this world, it needs to be thought about very intentionally. And as I mentioned earlier, the businesses that have done that I think are the ones that have been most successful with this remote hybrid or whatever arrangement’s in place now, rather than just switching out your conference room for Zoom.

Douglas:  We’re also talking about asynchronicity versus synchronicity. And it’s fascinating to me, the meme that goes around a ton, which is like this meeting could have been an email and certainly, there’re some folks knee-jerkingknee jerking to more asynchronous work. But I see people struggle with that too. And so I’m curious if that’s something that you’ve noticed with your users or colleagues is, it’s almost like these meetings are sacred cows or something. They can’t let go of this all hands or whatever it is when it clearly is not decisive explorative or any of these things that really value, really depend on people being together.

Darren:  Yeah. It’s one of my favorite topics and it’s something close to my heart. When COVID hit, I found myself back in Australia with a 17 hour time difference to my team in the U.S. and all of a sudden I was waking up really early. I’ve got a young, at the time, baby and trying to balance life and things that way, and I obviously didn’t want any collaboration to take a hit and that’s just one example. Another example, our CTO. He’s the kind of guy where he’s most productive from 11:00 AM to midnight every day. Ask him anything first thing in the morning and he’s there because he has to be there because in the old world, it’s a strange thing to a wake up to work at 11:00 AM. Or if you are there every night at 10:00 PM, everyone thinks you’re a little bit crazy and something else going on at home.

And as we started to see this, it really made us ask the question of, “Well, why are we making people fit our mold? If you are most productive or most effective, or you can balance things in a certain way, or if we can recruit the best people on different time zones, why can’t we make it work that way? So jumping on this trend and it’s something that Hugo supports extensively, but another great tool that we use all the time is one called Loom where we can send videos instead of that quick call or that quick meeting. “I have an idea. I have some feedback. I have a few thoughts. I’d love to bounce something off you.” All of these are great use cases for me sending you a quick video and saying, “Hey Douglas, check this out. Share my screen. See my camera talk you through what I’m thinking.”

Send that over to you and you can look at that right away or in 20 hours, whenever it’s most convenient for you. And the thing is, nothing’s lost, right? It’s still the same high bandwidth. You can hear the tone of my voice, my funny accent, you can see my face how excited I am, how concerned I am, everything that we get in a normal meeting, but on our respective schedules, without me saying, “Drop what you’re doing, stop, break your flow, come jump on a call,” because that’s what the calendar says you should do. So the move to async is absolutely enabled by remote, but I also think it’s enabled by the globalizing world that we’re living in where the best people may be somewhere else, may be balancing family, may be just not productive at the time you are. And the mix of async and sync, I think is what makes teams very successful.

Douglas:  100%. Huge fan of Loom and always encourage folks to use it. It’s a game changer even to send small little instruction stuff up. It’s so much nicer than a giant wall of text email.

Darren:  Yeah, it’s funny. I had a talk I gave once this pyramid of [inaudible 00:20:40]. I called it “Bandwidth the communication,” where we over time and generationally, we’re moving to communicate in less and less bandwidth ways. So what used to be us shaking hands face to face, having a conversation, is now often a text message, a few words, an emoji, right, on the other extreme and so much is lost. The difference between us having that conversation, building rapport, shooting the breeze, bouncing ideas off each other through to that emoji thumbs up is infinitely different. So how in the remote world that we’re all operating in now, can we maximize bandwidth? And I think video is a very effective way to do that.

Douglas:  100%. And I also love that you can comment on it. So you’ve got [inaudible 00:21:21], like it’s not real time where you’re in the meeting and people can ask questions and whatnot, but often times to have the meeting, you’re going to have to schedule it three days from now, or like you say, interrupt someone’s flow. So if I can send this over and get a question back an hour or four hours later, and that’s always better in my experience.

Darren:  Yeah, exactly right. 100% and people are happier, right? Young kids and whatever else… I’ve working as hard as I ever have before, but life is more balanced because I’m doing things when I’m most productive and when makes the most sense, not because my Google calendar said at 6:00 PM, I have to jump on this quick call.

Douglas:  That reminds me too. I’ve used it as well for motivational type moments or like just messages to the team. And I don’t know, like if you’re like me, but sometimes going into the all hands, it’s like, it takes a moment to get my game face on. And to be able to record it when you’re feeling inspired, even when it’s not anticipated. You just might have gotten some good news from a partner and you just record a quick video and send it out and then it’s a glorious thing.

Darren:  Yeah, exactly. Right. It’s when you’re going to do the best job, not when the calendar dictates.

Douglas:  That’s right. I love it. So we also talked a little bit in the pre-show about this notion of the role of meetings. And you mentioned debate, discussion and decision making, which echoes some of our functions that we identified in Magical Meetings. I love their alliteration. It’s pretty awesome. Often I think that can help people think about something that should be async right. If they’re not actually leaning in on one of these benefits, if you will, then it’s questionable why we want to have everyone synchronously together, even at tons of revenue and lost opportunity.

Darren:  Yeah. Yeah. I 100% agree with that. Definitely that’s the problem. I think what you’re describing is the challenge for this new way of thinking.

Douglas:  And so what advice do you have for folks that are like, “Okay. I get it. I hear it, but I’m having a hard time letting go.” Or maybe my boss is having a hard time letting go of this meeting and clearly we get in there and it’s just like we’re being presented to.

Darren:  Yeah. Yeah. I think ultimately it’s like any process adopting any new way of doing things in a modern organization, showing rather than telling or doing rather than telling is the right way to go about it. It can be a steep learning curve, a steep adoption curve to go to your boss and say, “Hey, I don’t think we should be using meetings like this anymore.” Some organizations you can get away with and that’s fantastic. But what I recommend is the grassroot approach. Try different things. For your reports, if you have reports. For your meetings, that you are running, try the Loom instead. Try other ways of collaborating asynchronously. Try not going to the meeting and asking for the notes to be shared with you, which is obviously something that we enable at Hugo. And these processes typically show the value of this way of working. And once you see the light, you can’t go back.

When you’ve got a time back in your calendar, when everyone else in the organization feels like their time’s being more respected and their meetings are more successful and more effective, that’s it. It’s sold. So that’s the way that we’ve seen it be most successful.

Douglas:  Yeah. It reminds me of this idea of the internal case study. It’s like it’s easy to read about it in a business book, but actually creating some value in the organization and being able a point to that, “See what we were able to do over here?” And you’re speaking to that.

I love that because so often people will say, “Well, that won’t work here.

Darren:  Yeah. It’s the same with adopting software. I go into a daze where the executive says, “Everyone, this is now the process. And now the tools.” As you know, most tools now get adopted by people just using them. And before you know it they’re just prolific in the organization and ultimately the executive doesn’t really have a choice anymore. It’s been adopted by the organization bottoms up and the same goes for changes in process, in my view

Douglas:  Also another thing that jumped out to me was this notion of try not showing up and just getting the notes or the recording later. And-

Darren:  Exactly.

Douglas:  I think that’s pretty incredible. And we have a policy at Voltage Control that all meetings are optional. And so we have etiquette around that. Someone invites you to a meeting, make sure you slightly decline and explain why you don’t think you’re needed, because that will help people understand if their purpose is not well articulated because if they start telling you why they shouldn’t be there and you’re like, “Wait a second. I think you need to be there for these reasons,” that means I didn’t communicate those reasons well enough upfront.

Darren:  Exactly. Exactly. And you do that a couple of times and you realize that firstly, the meeting still goes ahead and is successful and nothing bad happens with you missing out and getting the information afterwards or that that meeting perhaps, exactly to your point, should have had a different or better articulated purpose or didn’t even need to exist.

Douglas:  Yeah. And if you don’t experiment, then you don’t learn. And I think everyone’s, for the most part, are in an almost a robotic, like, “Okay, what does my calendar say? I got to do that thing.” I don’t think there’s enough questioning around the value.

Darren:  Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. Well said.

Douglas:  One of my favorite things to do with folks when I’m coaching them is like, we’re doing a calendar review and looking at their meetings and they’re like, I’m like asking them like, ‘Well, this one seems a little suspect. Why have this meeting?” It’s like, “Oh, well,” and they start defending it and then they start asking-

Darren:  Always done that. We’ve been doing that one for years. That’s my favorite.

Douglas:  Yeah, exactly. And then you get into, “Okay, what’s the purpose of this meeting? Why do we need to have it? Okay. It sounds like a status update.” “Well, yeah, but…” da, da, da. They might say something like you ultimately get down to like, “Well, I really want to react and respond to the group and how they’re receiving it and” this and that. I’m like, “Well, I don’t see anything in your planner or agenda that is supporting that happening.

Darren:  Yeah, yeah, exactly. Right. Exactly right.

Douglas:  And then that’s the big epiphany. It’s like, if you want that to happen, if that’s something you aspire to, then let’s work on designing for that rather than just hoping it’ll happen. And then just like having your head in the sand that it’s like a waste of time.

Darren:  That’s it, yeah, totally agree. I still, to this day with our business, we have an internal rule where we tap the number of internal meetings at 10% of your work week. So that it’s… Especially when people join the organization, it’s a fast way to get that down and create that discipline around, not just booking meetings as you think of things, and that for us is an easy way to keep that in check because it can run away from you very fast.

Douglas:  Oh wow. Yeah. I love that. I wonder how are you tracking to make sure you’re upholding this 10% guideline?

Darren:  We’re in the calendar business with Hugo so we have analytics on that. We can get regular reporting on how much time everyone’s spending in internal meetings. And that allows us to keep tabs as that starts to slip. And then it’s not about just enforcing and saying, “Hey Douglas, last week you spent 20% and the week before was 25. What’s going on?” It’s us trying to understand what’s failing because often that’s the writing on the wall that some other process or forum for collaboration that’s required.

Douglas:  Mm love that. Love that. It reminds me of Peter Drucker’s calendar review and it’s such a powerful tool for coaching and mentoring. Inevitably, when I’m working with small startups or just anyone who comes to me and says, “I’m in desperate need of hiring a new marketing person,” or, “I need an embedded systems software developer. And they’re just super hard to find. We can’t find them…” da, da, da. I’ll ask them, “Well, how important is this for your business? “And it’s like, “It’s the most important thing.” And I was like, “All right, well, let’s take a look at your calendar.” And they’ll say, “How much time are you[crosstalk 00:29:24] spinning on it?” Right. And they’re like, inevitably, it’s a fraction of their time and that’s a big eye opener. So I love anytime people visualize the way they’re spending their time, especially when it revolves around meetings. Because they get so costly when you’re talking about having five, ten people in there.

Darren:  It’s the new palm reading. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar.

Douglas:  That’s right. So good. Excellent. Well, we’re coming up on time here and I want to just acknowledge the fact that you and I could probably just sit here and talk about meetings for a long time, but we have limited time. So want to just give you an opportunity to leave our listeners with a final thought. What should they keep in mind? What should they know?

Darren:  Yeah. I think one of the biggest lessons that we’ve liked building a team and we started our conversation talking very heavily about culture is the way you best use great people. You spend so much time and money hiring people around you and the biggest mistake we made in our early days was directing instead of supporting those people. There’s a great book I recommend reading. It’s called Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal, and he’s got this concept of eyes on hands off. And that’s probably the simplest, but most effective team advice that I’ve ever received where you know what your team’s up to. You’re there to support them, but you’ll certainly have your hands out of the pie. You’re letting them run with things. And as soon as we started to adopt that as a culture and as a way of working, our organization, our team really turned a corner.

Douglas:   love that you brought that book up and thank you for encouraging listeners to read it. There’s an anecdote from there that I love which is about leadership being like a gardener and you can’t make the plants grow. You can just create the conditions for them to grow.

Darren:  Exactly. Exactly. Well said. Yeah, it’s definitely highly recommend it. Put it high on the list for anyone that’s growing or developing a team.

Douglas:  Nice. Nice. Excellent. Well, folks, want to learn more about Hugo, where should they go?

Darren:  Yeah. Have a look at our website, hugo.team. So, H-U-G-O.T-E-A-M and you can sign up free, have a look as a very effective way to run better, more efficient meetings with your team or check out our Twitter, which is @Hugoproduct. We’re sharing tons of content like this as we stumble across it every day.

Douglas:  Excellent. Nice. Well, Darren, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you about meetings and excited that you guys are building this awesome tool and best of luck to you and the team.

Darren:  Likewise. Thank you so much, Douglas.

Douglas:  Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control The Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. And if you want more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about working better together, voltagecontrol.com.