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May 30, 2005

Meetings without cell phones and Blackberrys

Will Price reports from Microsoft's VC Summit in Mountain View on how MSFT CEO Steve Ballmer does not carry a Blackberry or a cell phone during the work day.

He does not permit meetings where people use laptops or notepads to check and write email. His goal is focused interaction, drive to a solution, and then break up the meeting and move on. He recounted a story of where a major company CEO interupted him in mid-sentence as his Blackberry vibrated, only to tell him after checking that Scott Peterson had been convicted. The CEO then had to ask Steve where they were in the conversation.

Will feels this is habit of "switching off" - cell phones and sundry other devices, that is - would also serve VCs quite well:
The VC industry suffers from very short attention spans, and I pity the CEOs who need to compete with VCs checking random emails and text messages during their pitches. I, guilty as anyone at times, took a lot from Steve's views on self-discipline and respect to other meeting participants.

Rather than join the Luddite crowd rejecting the convenience of mobile email, I simply am trying to ensure that meetings are sacred (as is time with wife and kids!!!). Perhaps, I will recover some IQ points (I need them) and get more done as a result.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.