Thirty years ago, when I did mornings at WCXR/Washington, my contract was up for renewal. The ratings were really good, and I was feeling cocky, so among my demands was that whenever I had to attend a meeting with the PD or GM, we all had to stand up.
They thought I was kidding, but I explained that, most of the time, they wanted to tell me about a promotion we were doing, or a formatic adjustment, or something similar which could be handled just as efficiently if they’d stop me in the hall for a couple of minutes, impart the information, and then we all moved on. If no one sat down, we’d all want the meetings to be much shorter, focusing only on the matter at hand.
I said that by the time my show ended at 10am (which is when they usually wanted to meet), their business day may have been just beginning, but mine was coming to an end. After all, I’d gotten up at 4am to be on the air at 5:30am, then constantly worked up new material on the fly for four-and-a-half hours. When the midday guy took over, I was usually mentally drained (and pretty hungry). In that state of mind, I had no desire to sit down in anyone’s office and schmooze for 15-20 minutes before we got to the point of the get-together. It would be like having a sales department meeting at 5pm, when no one’s in the mood.
The GM, who thought the whole thing was hysterical, said he understood my concerns, and would try to keep our meetings as short as possible from then on. The next day at 10am, as I walked out of the studio, he stood there with a smirk on his face and told me to come to his office and sit down so we could take care of something. I thought he was kidding, but he said, “No, really. Take a seat.”
When I did, he explained that, while he wouldn’t put the no-sitting rule in writing, he had agreed to give me a nice raise and hired my sidekick as a full-time employee. He pushed the new contract over to me, adding that I could read it in whatever position I wanted to. At that point, I couldn’t complain much, so I remained seated as I went over every clause. After several minutes, I was satisfied, so I put pen to paper. Then I stood up and shook his hand, as he said, “I’m glad we’re continuing our relationship, which has been — and will be — very good for both of us.”
Then, with a chuckle, he added, “I hope I didn’t keep you too long!” I laughed and thanked him.
Now, Professor Richard Wiseman has put together a video called, “Science-Backed Ways To Become A Better Leader,” and one of his suggestions is — yes!! — to eliminate chairs from meetings, so that everyone is forced to stand and get to the point more quickly. I guess I was just ahead of my time.