Your calendar shows that you as an investor have to talk to a lot of people.
Every weekday from 8 am to 6 pm is jam-packed with conversation. The allocation of time is crucial to achieving success.
Tackle is an app that allows easy scheduling of meetings without the back and forth of emails. I can create ‘Events’ configured to match my availability and then create workflows around them so that everyone gets the best experience.
Setting up a meeting can take a lot of time. It’s hard when both sides don’t have much time. It’s also easy to put things off because they are hard. When you put things off, more and more things start to need your time.
When you get a request for a meeting, you usually need to decide the following:
- Should I even go to this meeting? Since I don’t have a lot of time, I need to put my effectiveness first. Most of the time, it’s better for the person who asked for the time to get a quick email response with the help they need than to wait for weeks until the calendar opens up to take the next step. In this case, I have a snippet of Superhuman that helps me say no and makes me think of other ways to help.
- If a meeting is the best option, I’ll send you a link to your calendar.
So before you go down the rabbit hole, read 20 articles on time blocking, calendar management, email inbox management, and trying not to let your schedule control your whole life. Here is what we learned and suggest putting it into practice. Hope it helps 😊
Table of contents
A. Eliminate to Win
You can’t go to every meeting, and to save yourself a lot of trouble, you need to be smarter about which ones you choose. You might feel bad but you need to be practical. like to help people (which is why I write all of this). You need to learn how to tell people no because your time is not free. When you understand this, you’ve already won the first battle. Then, you need to make or find a way to check yourself that keeps you honest. You set up a way for you and your team to screen calls and meetings in a way that works for you.
For Example: In an interview Anastasiya Giarletta said,
My team asks themselves these questions, and they push me to do the same, to decide which calls I should take:
1. Method: Can it be taken care of through email? If so, you should do that.
2. Need: Is it a company I’m really interested in, from which we can definitely learn something, and/or in which we’d invest? If not, you can politely say no (templates for how below).
3. Outsource: Can I give the call to a team member, provider, or another contact who is a better fit?
4. Prioritize: Calls from investors and our portfolio companies are more important than anything else. If I don’t say what needs to be said, someone else will.
5. No 1st Intro In-Person: There are no first meetings with people who aren’t investors. If I don’t know you or have a direct need for a meeting to help our effort, I might take a call, but I won’t meet with you. Instead, let’s do a 10-minute call to get to know each other. HOLD FAST for 10 minutes, with the chance to call again.
6. How long does the meeting need to be? I’ve started pushing for 15- or 45-minute meetings instead of 30 or 60-minute ones.
7. Group calls: If I don’t find them useful, I’ll drop out.
Recurring calls: Really think about whether you need these. If not, you need to have a hard talk. Your time is a scarce resource, and an awkward conversation is a good price to pay for it.
B. Say no politely and frequently
Here are the best templates we have compiled that you can use to politely say no without taking too much of your time.
When the meeting doesn’t match your objectives
Wonderful to hear from you! I trust all is good. Thankfully, business is picking up, and I am under significant pressure to accomplish some ambitious objectives. Unfortunately, I am unable to connect at the moment.
For a company, you won’t invest in
Wonderful to hear from you! I trust all is good. Unfortunately, you are (too early/in the wrong industry/etc.) for us to invest in and do not align with our model, but we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!
Request Denial Reminders:
- They may respond by prodding you: if so thats great! Persistence is one of my favorite traits. It is usually appreciated when people are honest with you and don’t try to trick you into thinking something is possible when it isn’t. Since you’ve already replied, there’s no need to do it again.
- It is not always necessary to respond to a cold email. Actually, they shouldn’t because of how unlikely that is. It’s the same as having individuals call you or knock on your door. Your lack of response does not reflect poorly on you as a person; rather, it indicates that they are not now among your highest priorities. If you can avoid wasting their time, you will have greatly served them.
- We suggest scheduling calls on Mondays and Fridays, but you can also call on a Tuesday if necessary; just make sure it’s after our portfolio operations call!
- Avoid taking off on Mondays or Fridays if at all possible; instead, utilize those days as “work” days, and instead of traveling, spend them in the office.
- There will be no calls made on days that you are away (too much can go wrong)
- Unless it’s a major investment, please refrain from calling before 11am.
- Time allotment: 30 minutes for investor calls, 10-15 minutes for new introductions, 15 minutes for new portfolio company calls, and 30 minutes for follow-up calls with everyone.
- Podcasts get one hour that is it, screen podcasts prior to insure the correct fit.
- Don’t schedule anything that would cause a time clash.
- Each event should be designated by color.
C. Prep Properly
Make sure you have enough time to prepare and can make the most of it before any call or meeting. There is nothing worse than a meeting that could have been one and done but turned into more than one because someone wasn’t ready.
Even if it’s just one or two lines, every call should have a plan and be on your calendar. The goal of the call should be written down, along with what will be talked about, and the call should stay on track.
How to prep for each week:
This is how Codie A. Sanchez, founder of Contrarian Thinking, plans for her week and what she suggests other VC to follow:
- Each night, you should plan for the next day and look over the agenda ahead of time. You should also gather the materials you’ll need for any meetings or calls before they happen.
- Every Friday, look at your calendar and think about how you spent your time over the past week. Then, on Sunday, look at the next week and think about how you want to spend your time. I’ll be honest: I’m not very good at this yet, and I’d say I get it about half the time.
- Put everything on the calendar, including workouts (yoga in the morning and muay thai in the evening), times to reach out to investors and set up meetings, and times to do research, read, and write. I have to plan my workouts or else my willpower will sneak off and go for a run instead of me.
- Set up a focus day once a month where you block off the whole day to do more intense work.
Now here’s the real secret, TRY to actually do this above. I promise to hold you accountable if you return the favor.