I went on an incredible trip with my dad to New Orleans this year. It was just the two of us for the weekend. And in between our inhalations of the incredible food, architecture, music and history…we had plenty of time to talk.
And I found it so interesting that while I assume I know everything about my dad, I really don’t. I missed the first 24 years of his life because I had yet to arrive, and I missed the next 20+ years because I was busy being a kid.
But it’s a little strange now, right? I want to ask him all kinds of questions, and I do, but there’s a part of me that feels a little embarrassed…like I should already know the answers, because, after all, he’s my dad.
One night, at dinner, our waitress started asking some basic questions about where we were from, etc., and I realized how easy it is for someone new to come in and get core information—without any embarrassment or thoughts of, “I should know this already!”
It’s an interesting phenomenon. And I’ve seen it happen in places outside the family. Like in companies.
On more than one occasion, when building content for a meeting, we’ve had a tough time getting core information about and from high-level execs. The flow of things often requires that we do our research via the people that work for them…and just like me, these folks feel like they should just know everything about their bosses (and how they feel about pertinent issues)…and that it’s too late to ask.
Makes total sense. They think they can’t ask the CEO how she feels about team building (for example), because they’re afraid it will make them seem like they’re not doing their job, or at least not paying attention. But we still need the information to build themes, the training curriculum, the closing video.
Cue the ‘waitress’—the same rules apply. Get the ‘new guy’ in the room or on the phone or in an email to ask The Questions.
The answers are critical to the message of the meeting. And after all, all’s fair in family and meetings.