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Meetings

To really success in a business or organisation, it is sometimes helpful to know what your job is, and whether it involves any duties. Ask around among your co-workers, 'G'day', you should say 'I'm a new employee. What is the title of my job ?'. If they answer 'long-range planner' or 'consultant', you are pretty much free to lounge around and do crossword puzzles until retirement. Most other jobs, however, will involve some kind of work.

There are two major kinds of work in modern organisations.
1. Taking phone messages for people who are in meetings and
2. Going to meetings.

Your ultimate career strategy will be to get a job involving primarily number two, going to meetings, as soon as possible, because that's where all the prestige is.

It is all very well and good to be able to take phone message but you are never going to get a position of power, a position where you can cost thousands of people their jobs with a single block headed decision, unless you learn how to attend meeting.

The first meeting ever held was back in the Mezzanine Era. In those days, Man's job was to slay his prey and bring it home to Woman, who had to work out how to cook it. The problem was, Man was slow and naked, where as the prey had warm fur and could run like an antelope (in fact it was an antelope, only back then no-one knew this).

At last, someone said 'Maybe if we just sit down and did some brain storming we could come up with a better way to hunt our prey !' It went extremely well, plus it was much warmer sitting in a circle, so they agreed to meet again the next day, and the next.

But Woman pointed out that, prey wise, the men had not produced anything, and the human race was pretty much starving. The man agreed that was serious and said they would put it right near the top of their 'agenda'! At that point, Woman, who were primitive but not stupid, starting eating plants. And thus modern agriculture was born. It could never have happened without meetings.

However, the modern business meeting might be better compared with a funeral, in the sense that you have a gathering of people who are wearing uncomfortable clothing and would rather we somewhere else. The major difference is that most funerals have a definite purpose. Also, nothing is ever really buried at a meeting.

An idea may look dead, but it will always reappear at another meeting. If you have ever seen the movie 'Night of the Living Dead', you will have a rough idea of how modern meeting operate with projects and proposals that everybody thought were killed, rising constantly from their graves to stagger back into the meeting and eat the brains of the living.

There are two major kinds of meetings.

1. Meetings that are held for basically the same reason that Wattle Day is observed - namely, tradition. For example, a lot of managerial people like to meet on Monday because it's Monday. You'll get used to it. You'd better, because this kind accounts for 83 per cent of all meetings held (based on a study in which I wrote down numbers until one looked right).

This type of meeting operates the way 'News Time' does in kindergarten, with everybody getting so say something, the difference being that in kindergarten, kids actually have something to say. When it's your turn, you should say that you're still working on whatever it is you're supposed to be working on. This may seem unnecessary since, obviously, you'd be working on whatever you're supposed to be working on, and even if you weren't, you'd claim that you were, but this is the traditional thing for everyone to say. It would be a lot faster if the person running the meeting would just say, 'Everybody who is still working on what he or she is supposed to be working on, raise your hand'. You'd all be out of there in five minutes, even allowing time for jokes. But this is not how we do it here. My guess is that is how they do it in Japan.

2. Meetings where there is some kind of alleged purpose. They are trickier, because what you do depends on what the purpose is. Sometimes the purpose is harmless, like somebody wants to show slides of pie charts and give everybody a copy of a big fat report. All you have to do in this kind of meeting is sit there and have elaborate fantasies, then take the report back to your office and throw it away, unless you're the deputy managing director, in which case you write the name of a subordinate in the upper right hand corner, followed by a question mark - like this 'Norm ?' and forget all about it (although it will plague poor old Norm for the rest of his career).

But sometimes you have to go to meetings where the purpose is to get your 'input' on something. This is very serious, because what it means is, they want to make sure than in the case whatever it turns out to be stupid or fatal, you'll get some of the blame. So you have to somehow escape from the meeting before they get around to asking you to say anything. One way is to set fire to your tie.

Another is to have an accomplice interrupt the meeting and announce that you have a phone call from somebody very important, such as the managing director, or the pope.

You should know how to take notes at a meeting. Use an oversized official looking pad. At the top write the date and underline it twice.

Now wait until an important person, such as your boss, starts talking. When he does, look at him and with an expression of enraptured interest, as though he is revealing the secrets of life itself. Then draw interlocking rectangles.

If it is an especially lengthy meeting, try something like arrows or pictures of aliens.

If somebody falls asleep in a meeting, have everybody else leave the room,. The collect a group of total strangers, right off the street and have then sit around the sleeping person until he wakes up. Then have one of them say in a very sombre voice. Bob, your plan is very, very risky. However you've given us no choice but to try it. I only hope for your sake, that you know what you're getting yourself into'.

Then everybody should file quietly from the room.
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