“Always Postpone Meetings with Time-Wasting Morons” — Scott Adams

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.” ― Dave Barry

I look back fondly to the day when I became Copy Chief of a London Ad Agency.

It was 51 years ago as far as I can make out.

Many things have changed since. Nowadays I would be called something utterly absurd like Chief Executive Creative Officer.

And thanks to the efforts of a procession of free-spending politicians my annual salary of £2,200 – which funded countless alcoholic lunches, frolics and failed attempts at extra-marital fornication – wouldn’t last me a fortnight.

But one thing hasn’t changed since then. Even though we only had 80 staff I was always being asked to attend meetings. I attribute much of the little success I have since had to the fact that I quickly learned the importance of turning them down.

My technique, which I pass on at no charge, was to say I was very busy but if anyone wanted my opinion on the subject I would write it. I think this is better than the one Scott Adams suggests, but you can do some split-run tests if you like and see which wins.

I was reminded of all this when one of my colleagues was asked to attend a meeting without being paid about a project which is not yet funded and even when someone does cough up cannot begin until the spring.

For those forced to attend these things, here is a ready-made agenda provided at no charge by my friend Ryan Wallman from the fair city of Melbourne … outside whose Royal Yacht Club I was once attacked by an enraged Chihuahua, ruining a sexy pair of trousers I had just had made in Bangkok.

That is a different story, but for the benefit of the countless legions who like to talk endless ill-informed horse-shit about them, the agenda Ryan has “crafted” (a popular word among the semi-literate) is about brands.

Do not despair, though. This is a multi-purpose agenda and can quickly be adapted  to a range of topics favoured by the witless such as Social Media, Content Marketing, Thought Leadership, Native Advertising and Was Jesus Gay or Just Transgendered?

Agenda – Brand planning workshop*

Time Topic
9.00 Unnecessary introductions
9.15 Presentation of biased market research results
10.30 Some bollocks about emotional laddering
11.00 Breakout groups: Meaningless diagrams on butcher’s paper that nobody will ever look at again
1.00 Hypothetical game based on an inappropriate military metaphor
2.00 Three hours discussing the tagline ‘Progress is our passion’                          (more time available if needed)
5.00 Agreement on next steps that will never happen because everybody will be too busy planning next year’s workshop

*Subject to change depending on the number of irrelevant digressions by the guy from head office who loves the sound of his own voice.




About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Drayton that made me laugh.

    It also reminded me of one such “workshop” on the subject of project management I once had to attend when working at one particular large US corporation. We spent the afternoon in teams, building I kid you not, a so-called “paper bridge” (out of A4 paper and paperclips).

    Then to crown it all, the last hour was spent listening to a live audio stream of two high-ups at the US HQ woffling to each other in corporate-speak and cracking in-jokes that meant nothing to any of us.

    Self indulgent rubbish, but we had to sit there with focused looks on our faces. If you tuned into that sort of drama junk on the radio you’ d switch off within five minutes. Sadly we didnt have that luxury, but more and more people started slipping out for extended smoking breaks.

    At least one of the things you can occupy yourself with in meetings is playing buzzword bingo.

    “Thought leaders” – must be one of the biggest BS terms around, as well as being both Orwellian and arrogant. It amazes me that people use such words and believe such nonsense.

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