For every reason we have to celebrate growth, there comes a potential challenge we must face to keep our position.
Most startups and growing companies will face questions over which systems to employ, which often leads to more questions when these systems are based on software.
Enter Elise Keith of Lucid Meetings, a software company that provides software, services, and resources for systematic meetings.
We sit in episode 110 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast to discuss their invaluable software and how it can help you stay ahead of the curve in at least one aspect of business.
For more information or a transcript of episode 110, visit: https://meetingleadershipinc.com/110.
J. Elise Keith is the founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings, the author of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization, and a regular contributor for Inc. and other publications. Lucid Meetings provides services, software, and resources that help thousands of organizations worldwide implement a system of successful meetings.
You can contact Elise via the company’s official website: https://www.lucidmeetings.com
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00:00 – Show Opening
Gordon Sheppard: Are you finally tired enough of bad meetings and is your organization ready to put a system in place to help your meetings be consistently more productive? Well, if so, you’re going to get a lot out of today’s episode on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.
00:41 – Podcast content starts here!
Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I just want to say thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being the type of professional who wants to change their mindset, change their behavior. Do the things that you know it takes to build your leadership skills, get another strategy, another suggestion, something that will help you go out and have highly productive meetings because you know that when you do, not only will it positively influence your team, but that’ll actually have an impact on your entire organization and flow through all the way to the ways that you can actually, in a positive way, serve your customers and your community. It’s great to have you here.
01:21 – How Lucid provides a systematic approach for highly effective meetings
Gordon Sheppard: And if you’re the type of leader who is just done with unproductive meetings, then today you’re going to really enjoy learning how Lucid provides a systematic approach for highly effective meetings. Now, Lucid meetings provides services, software and resources that help thousands of organizations worldwide to implement a system of successful meetings. Today we are lucky enough to have the CEO on the show. Her name is Elise Keith. She’s the founder. She’s also the author of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization. She’s a regular contributor to inc.com and so much more. And I know that when you learn about Lucid, learn about their approach, you’re really going to want to learn even more.
02:10 – Start of Elise Keith interview
Gordon Sheppard: So I’m not going to hold you back any longer. Here’s the great interview with Elise Keith. Elise Keith, welcome to the show.
Elise Keith: Great to be here.
02:31 – Elise Keith’s self-introduction
Gordon Sheppard: Well, you know what? I’ve been doing this work myself and when I realize now, if you’ve built the mountain, I’ve built a mound in terms of coming at this work sort of honestly in terms of helping people with their meetings. I’m so thrilled to have you here on the show. But there’s a lot of people that don’t know you. When you go to introduce yourself, what do you say?
Elise Keith: I say that I’m Elise Keith. I am the founder and CEO of Lucid Meetings where we help teams run successful meetings every day.
02:40 – Elise on why she founded Lucid
Gordon Sheppard: What a mission. And when I heard founder, there’s a moment in there where you weren’t a founder of Lucid Meetings. What got this idea in your head and why was it important to found this significant venture that you’re doing?
Elise Keith: Before starting Lucid, I had one of those careers where you find yourself in all kinds of unexpected places, one after the other. I was able to see that in some environments, teams came together and they were able to really make work happen, right? They enjoyed working together. They were able to make decisions. They moved things forward and it was what you had hoped worked would be, right? Like we go to work to do good things in the world. And in other environments, I found that the teams thought there were politics, there’s wasted time. There’s all of those things that you see in Dilbert cartoons about your soul going to the office to die. Over the course of that first phase of my career, the common element that I was able to pull out of that was that the teams that knew how to run effective meetings were successful teams.
03:48 – What is the systematic approach?
Gordon Sheppard: It’s just so great that you’ve been able to do that. What we’re going to be talking about here today is how Lucid provides a systematic approach for highly effective meetings because there’s that moment you start the business and then, what is this sort of systematizing that you were able to bring from maybe those positive and negative experiences that you were having before and bring that forward?
Elise Keith: What we identified was that the teams that were the most successful, and that’s really what underlies all of our work. And I think most people who are in this space, right? We’re not necessarily particularly interested in meetings in and of themselves. What we all care about is successful teams. We care about making it possible for people to solve the world’s big problems and have joy in their work. What we found was that the successful teams had what we call basically a meeting operating system that underlied how they work, which spells out exactly how they’re going to run different kinds of conversations: how do our weekly check ins work? How do we make decisions? All of these procedural process oriented things. And then they had the training and support that made that happen.
06:17 – Elise on what companies need to be prepared to go digital
Elise Keith: So when we began our company, we began by building the software layer. Once you have a system like that, it’s really handy to put that into software so you can automate all of the manual parts. And that works really great for teams that already understand how they’re meant to work and have those kinds of ideas about, this is how we make decisions, so let’s write it down and automate it as much as possible. But over time what we found is that most teams don’t have that. Our system and our company has expanded to help bridge all of those different phases of development and maturity so that now we work with folks to help them find and develop the kinds of meetings that work for their unique culture to do their unique kind of work so that they can become more successful over time.
Gordon Sheppard: It’s one thing for your fitness trainer to give you the sheet that says, here’s how you get six pack abs. It’s another thing to get that behavior change in place and actually make that occur. Somehow you found a magic bullet in there because on the website information, like what, 47 countries, 5,000 organizations served? I mean, this is a significant body of work. What’s sort of a magic bullet… Let’s start with those teams that say, haven’t thought they’re not at that ready for software level. What’s that magic piece that you found over the years to really help those ones kind of get moving forward to make the behavior change?
Elise Keith: I think there are a couple of important things you have to know about what’s going on for the most people in most organizations. One is that they have no prior experience, many folks, or exposure to what it means to run a consistently successful meetings. When you go to change the meetings in a culture, often we do things like, hey, you should use an agenda or maybe they should be shorter or whatever. And these are point ideas that actually while they aren’t wrong, don’t help people change a whole culture, right?
But where you can start and what does turn out to be the key starting places, showing people that it’s possible by telling stories and giving examples from other companies that have done it, right? Once you have a vision of what it could look like for you when you’re there, that completely changes your relationship to that piece of work. Because if you know that you could run your meetings more like companies that you admire that are doing wonderful work and that people love to go work in, why not change? Now that you can see what that might look like and you have a sense of it, then making progress on it seems more realistic.
07:29 – A story to illuminate holistic methodology
Gordon Sheppard: Well, and this makes sense from a holistic approach, right? Again, you said we started with the software, it was great for certain teams at a certain level. But this holistic piece that you’ve brought in, you mentioned stories. Is there a story that you’d like to share that kind of illuminates this where you’ve been able to take them through?
Elise Keith: The story I tell most often to folks who don’t believe that meetings can be a good use of time is the story of Zingerman’s. Zingerman’s is a community of businesses based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They’re food based businesses, so they run a roadhouse and a deli and a mail order chocolate shop and all of these kinds of nice high end food based companies. When you go and you watch how they meet, you can see one of the reasons why they’re so radically successful. This is a small community based bunch of businesses in private ownership and their revenue was something like 65 million last year, 68. So that’s huge. It’s huge. And they have amazing retention.
That’s an industry where you churn people, right? Like people come out of high school and they wash dishes for a while and then they leave. Well, at Zingerman’s that doesn’t happen as often. People come out of high school, they wash dishes for a while, then they start to manage that floor. Then they grow and then 10 years later they’re starting their own food based business within the community. They become partners and managers. People begin in their careers there. A lot of how that is made possible is in how they meet.
Elise Keith: Every group in Zingerman’s has a weekly meeting called their huddle, where they look at all of the books. Everybody in the company gets up and they see what the revenue was, they see what the expenses were, they see what their numbers were for order served and customer satisfaction and all of these things. Those meetings are facilitated by a team member. The day that I was there, it was a hostess who was leading the meeting. The managers are not leading these meetings.
09:30 – Empowering employees to manage themselves through the systematic approach
Gordon Sheppard: Not like an expert facilitator or whatever brought in and flown in, somebody from within their group?
Elise Keith: Somebody from within their group, and not only that, they trade. Every month, somebody new runs the meetings, so they all have an opportunity to learn that skill. The facilitator starts with an icebreaker, so they go around and answer a question, they connect, they come present. Everybody in that room speaks; the newest dishwasher, the hostess, the waiters, the prep chefs, everybody in that room speaks in those meetings. And then as they walk through their results, top line revenue, what did we make last week and how is that comparing to our projections? Those numbers are reported by team members.
The person who is reporting on what their expenses were for food is somebody who’s managing inventory in the back of the house. It’s not the partners, it’s not the leaders, it’s the people closest to the work are reporting on the numbers. That means that every single person in that business knows how to read a balance sheet. They know how their work impacts that company’s success and they are all actively participating in making decisions about how to improve that success so that they can all get their bonuses and their t-shirts and all of the things that help them be connected.
10:43 – The goal of Lucid
Gordon Sheppard: When you tell that story, it’s so inspiring and it sounds like this is what Lucid is doing kind of day in and day out for the companies that you’re touching on.
Elise Keith: It’s the goal, right? And I say not every company is meant to be exactly like Zingerman’s. That’s one model. And I choose them partially because they deal with such a breadth of people. One of the challenges we see with people when they think, “Oh, I’ve got to run better meetings,” is what they believe they need to do is develop magical people, right? I’m going to have fabulous facilitators who are empathic and can manage time and all of these kinds of things. And that’s just not true. And it’s also not realistic. It just doesn’t happen. So absolutely, we go in and help people find how structurally and procedurally they can set a process in place that helps everyone succeed.
11:31 – The future of Lucid – Creating and documenting more ‘fabulously successful’ models
Gordon Sheppard: When I spoke to you before this call earlier, you mentioned you’ve been at it for 10 years. How is your energy level for bringing this issue forward in the future and where’s Lucid headed?
Elise Keith: That’s a fabulous question. It depends definitely on the day, of course, because that’s an awful long time to focus on meetings. But I think for us right now, our current focus is helping tell more of these stories. It took us a while to find that key. It wasn’t the basic tips and it wasn’t their facilitation training and it wasn’t those things that was going to unlock most teams. Those things are all wonderful and they absolutely should be part of the mix, but the unlocking being the ability to see that success is possible from other folks.
Elise Keith: Our current focus is in creating and documenting more of those models. What does fabulous success look like in a hospital environment? What does fabulous success look like in community participation, in nonprofits or in high tech; and finding and documenting and outlining as many of those models as possible so that when people come to us they can say, “I’m this kind of company with this sort of culture facing these kinds of things. Where should I start?” And we can have a story and some guidelines for them to get going with.
13:06 – Get in touch with Elise Keith – http://lucidmeetings.com
Gordon Sheppard: Seeing that success is possible, what a great gift that you’re bringing to the situation. And you’re doing it in that substantiated way, is not fly by night. I’ve seen a lot of folks in this space where they’re coming in, they think it’s a quick hit. You’ve been at it for a while and you’ve really earned your stripes, you can tell that. Elise, if people need to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Elise Keith: Come visit our website. We are at Lucidmeetings.com.
Gordon Sheppard: So great to have you on the show. Thanks for being here.
Elise Keith: Thank you.
Gordon Sheppard: Now, there were just a ton of great takeaways in that interview and the big one for me, well it that Elise helps people to see that success is possible. We’re so dragged down by feeling that meeting culture can’t change. Well, Lucid Meetings, they’re doing it day in, day out. They’re helping people in countries all around the world, thousands and thousands of organizations and I really do hope you check out their website, that’s Lucidmeetings.com.
13:44 – MLP 117: How The Successful Meetings Quickstart Program Can Help You Grow – https://meetingleaderhshipinc.com/117
Gordon Sheppard: And if you’d like to learn even more from Elise, then check out episode 117 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called, how the successful meetings quick start program can help you grow. And there, Elise dives into a specific way that they’re able to help teams really get a boost over a sustained period of time, bring in accountability and really change their meetings and their entire culture for the better. And you can get that episode by going to Meetingleadershipinc.com/117.
14:14 – MLP 125: Inspiring Leadership Stories with Elise Keith – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/125
Gordon Sheppard: And then I also know that you’re going to want to check out episode 125. It’s another in our inspiring leadership stories series and here Elise is going to share just a blockbuster. A way to not only give you hope but really a path forward in getting inspired to go back, make the changes to your meetings, build your leadership and change your entire culture, is another good one, and you can get that by going to Meetingleadershipinc.com/125.
14:41 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
Gordon Sheppard: And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now, there you’re going to find some really terrific options for live training for your team and also some online training options that will move you forward as well. And you can get that by going to Meetingleadershipinc.com/Academy.
And if you haven’t done it yet, take a moment to hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. And that way you can look forward to regular downloads with great guests like Elise, some great tips, more strategies that you can take out to take action to build your leadership skills and make your meetings absolutely outstanding. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
15:24 – Podcast Outro
Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
Links From This Episode
- MLP 117: How The Successful Meetings Quickstart Program Can Help You Grow – https://meetingleaderhshipinc.com/117
- MLP 125: Inspiring Leadership Stories with Elise Keith – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/125
- Contact Elise Keith –http://lucidmeetings.com
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