There’s a true story of Apple’s Steve Jobs telling someone they weren’t needed in this meeting, go away. But there is also the endlessly true endless story of our endlessly ending up in meetings we have no interest in. Worse than no interest, we have no stake in, nobody cares what we think, we don’t care what we think, we are there in body alone.
So go away.
Five or ten minutes into many meetings at Etsy, Eric Fixler, a senior software engineer at the time, would pick up his stuff and just walk out the door, mumbling something about not being useful here. If he had nothing to contribute, he went and found a better use of his, and our, time… teaching me a valuable lesson along the way.
There is no reason to sit in a meeting to which you add no value. Everyone invited should be there for a reason, and if you are there for a reason, you should be actively contributing, regardless of role or seniority. We hired you for your experience and insight, not to be a wallflower. If you can’t actively contribute to this particular discussion, there should be nothing wrong with leaving. We certainly don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time. Everyone at a startup has a million things to do.
Thus was born The Fixler, a simple and powerful rule: If you are sitting around a conference table and your presence isn’t necessary nor adds value to the others in the room, you may get up, say ‘Fixler’, and walk out without explanation or penalty.