I’m with Elon Musk: most meetings are a waste of time and best avoided

Joy Lo Dico
Elon Musk: The billionaire entrepreneur hates pointless meetings: Getty

Forget his hyperloops and space travel and electric cars: Elon Musk may have just made his greatest contribution to humanity yet by setting out the rules of meetings.

Get rid of most of them, he says, and if you can’t get rid of them, get rid of yourself by walking out of the door the minute you’ve got nothing left to contribute.

“It’s not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time,” says Musk in a memo worth reading.

I regard the office meeting like a dinner party — the one social engagement I try to avoid. There is a fixed menu in which you have no say. You will be seated next to someone you find boring, who finds you boring. You never criticise the host’s food, even when it arrives as slop on a plate, and for the sake of social politeness you have to stay until someone says “Coffee?” and you think “Uber?”

Meetings, though, are not social events. You can’t even anaesthetise yourself with wine these days. The worst of them feature claw-your-eyes-out agendas of indecision, jostling for authority, a lone remaining chocolate digestive on the plate and a bingo of platitudes wheeled out to disguise a lack of original thought.

Working out how to escape them takes up at least half my thought process during them. I’ve recently been practising the technique of making it look like the meeting is over by closing my notebook early, putting the lid back on my pen, sitting back and looking blank. This has the disconcerting effect on the other parties who realise they have to say something interesting to get your attention back.

But by far the best way of dealing with meetings is not moderation but abstention. Say you can’t make this one as you have another meeting. Strangely, when you say this, no one ever asks what it is. It is assumed to be more important than theirs.

How hands-on will Don and Manu be?

On Monday, Emmanuel Macron flies to Washington DC for a state visit. Will the US capital have enough pomp for the French President, the self-styled Jupiter whose official photograph was a virtuoso display of Photoshop?

I look forward to the pictures that will emerge from this encounter. When the two first met, Trump left the power handshake battlefield bruised and defeated — perhaps to do with the size of his hands.

Donald seems to have retreated to the safety of just doing thumbs-up selfies — his latest was with Japanese PM Shinzō Abe. Does he dare compare thumb size with Macron?

Eat greens — and drink infrared water

When is water not water? When it is served by a vegan café. Here’s Covent Garden’s Wild Food Cafe’s take on the old H2O staple: “All water we use has been filtered through a state-of-the-art filtration system with 10 levels of natural media mimicking nature’s cycles.”

Wait, there’s more. “We then further ‘activate’ the water using leading-edge vortex and infrared ceramics. So enjoy your living water.” How have we survived on all that dead water up to now?

Beyoncé (Getty Images)

Now I don’t have an issue with veganism as such, nor the endless new converts, the latest being Beyoncé. It’s just the argument-free virtue-hokum that accompanies it. History has shown that humans eating meat has done more than assist us in survival, so why twist it for the ideology of veganism? As for the ethics of eating animals, what about the livelihoods of cattle farmers supplanted by quinoa plantation growers?

The other way, you could describe that water is as “irradiated”. Doesn’t sound good now, does it?

Brexit deal to get its own special emoji

Who says the EU is boring? Its international trade arm has just sent out an elated tweet heralding its new Asia deals, with colourful flags and party poppers and a gif of the dancing candlesticks from Beauty and the Beast (sadly not replicable in this analogue newspaper).

“We’re ready for the trade agreements with two of our closest Asian partners, Japan and Singapore, to be signed and concluded,” it said.

What emoji will they use for the Brexit deal we are trying to negotiate? Their social media outputter must have his finger hovering over the “turd” emoji.