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Meetings are BrokenIn The Trenches broadcast 003

Be honest, you know they are.

How many meetings do you have a week?  How many in a single day?

If you’re like me, you spend about 30-50% of your time preparing for or attending meetings throughout the workweek.

And for the good of whichever organization you’re a part of, this has to stop.

That’s where Al Pittampalli comes in…

Shaking up the Status Quo

Al began his conventional career with Ernst & Young LLP as an IT adviser.

There, he worked on-site with numerous Fortune 1000 companies and found a disturbing trend…

These companies held a lot of purposeless meetings.

But he also noticed the rare exceptions: the companies with a culture of meaningful activity and purpose; companies that held quick, powerful, and, most importantly, rare meetings.

These companies performed better across the board and avoided pointless meetings at all costs.

Al figured out the formula, and now he’s bringing it to the rest of the world…or at least those willing to shake up the status quo and enter into the top percent of companies that focus on action rather than meetings.

About Al Pittampalli

Al Pittampalli

Al is the founder of The Modern Meeting Company and a meeting culture warrior.

He’s on a mission to change the way organizations hold meetings, make decisions, and coordinate action.

Al is a published author.  His book Read This Before Our Next Meeting was published by Seth Godin’s Domino Project, and during the week of its release it was the most popular Kindle book in the world.

For those unfamiliar with publishing and kindle rankings, this is incredibly difficult to do, but Al most definitely deserves it because the book is incredible.

Al has been featured in (yes, it’s a big list…):

  • Forbes.com
  • American Express Open Forum
  • The Telegraph
  • Huffington Post
  • Amazon.com’s Omnivoracious
  • London’s City A.M.
  • Revista Dinero (Colombia)
  • Montreal Gazette
  • CBS MoneyWatch
  • CKNW Radio
  • Ideamensch.com
  • MichaelHyatt.com
  • Duct Tape Marketing
  • Six Pixels of Separation – The Podcast

Al writes a great blog at www.modernmeetingstandard.com, and is a sought after speaker, writer and trainer.

Outstanding Wisdom from the Man Himself (Quotes from the Interview):

On recognizing things you can improve:

“There are so many things that are broken in the world, but a lot of times we don’t see them as broken because we are so used to them.”

On solving problems from the Outside (versus the inside):

“I didn’t want to be consumed by the same matrix I was trying to solve.”

“There are some real advantages to being an outsider.” (tweet this)

On becoming a published author and its effect on his company:

“Books are a business and they’re a great marketing tool for your ideas.” (tweet it)

On the power of books and spreading ideas:

“The great thing about a book is it spreads an idea better than anything I can think of.  There is nothing more powerful.” (tweet tweet)

On Seth Godin’s Domino Project:

“The value of what Seth [Godin] did was, he had this vehicle, he had this great asset, he had this TRIBE he was able to share this book with.”

On the pain of writing a book:

“It was incredibly scary.”

“It was a very frustrating process because you start to question whether this is something you can do or not…”

Here’s how he overcame this difficulty of writing:

“I used [Jerry McGuire] as inspiration; I started waking up at 3:00am in the morning – really early – and I would imagine myself as Jerry McGuire at the typewriter and I would just write.”

On the difficulty of entrepreneurship:“People say ‘fake it till you make it’ – I think there’s some truth to that.” (tweet away)

“The key [to entrepreneurship] is being so invested in something that it’s worth it.” (share on the twitter)

On writing…

“The most important thing you have to do is write.” (tweet some more)

On being prepared (to get published by already having written a book):

“Decide.  Make a decision as to what direction you want to go in because as soon as you do and commit to it, the entire world will organize in a way that will help you.  It doesn’t guarantee success, but it makes it a lot more reachable.”“The universe just doesn’t reward wish-washy-ness.” (definitely tweet)

Awesome Things We Discuss in this Interview

Read This Before Our Next Meeting

  • Why you should never accept the status quo
  • Why sometimes you need to move outside to have an effect on the inside (of an organization)
  • On the tipping point of being a published author
  • The power of the tribe
  • The profound influence of Jerry Maguire
  • Why you NEED a voice for your writing (and how to get one)
  • Starting anything is scary
  • The 2 types of entrepreneurs – and why you need to know which one you are before you start (or you will likely fail)
  • The singular most important key to writing and becoming a published author
  • How persistence creates luck

Socialize w/ Al Pittamaplli:




More Show Notes:

Al’s Blog

Al’s Book

A Short, Powerful Key Note Address on How Meetings Ought to be Run:

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I hope this interview inspires you to do great things.

Whatever you do, don’t stop creating…

- Tom Morkes

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In the Trenches Broadcast 003:




A Truly Exciting Thought

The initiation of any project is exciting.

There’s something about that moment – the moment you finally write your ideas on paper – that’s both invigorating and scary.

You’ve finally moved from day-dreaming to actualizing, and everything seems at once entirely possible and wholly reachable.

The goals you set not only excite you by their grandeur, but by the thought of you yourself reaching them.

The moment we write our ideas on paper and form coherent objectives, a shift occurs within us.  This shift brings about two important realizations:

  1. We’ve been ready to start this entire time
  2. Our future circumstances are entirely in our hands

And knowing these two things makes almost anything in this life possible.

And that thought truly is exciting.

Beyond Starting

It’s a good thing to enjoy and revel in this act of starting; it’s empowering, energizing, and satisfying.

But it doesn’t last forever.

After we begin our projects, the excitement of starting gives way to the pain of finishing.

This means working long, unforgiving hours to complete what we started; to hustle, grind, and create from scratch what we envisioned so easily at the outset; to do the hard, creative work of bringing into tangible form what began as letters on a page.

It’s this juxtaposition – the ease with which we started versus the excruciating difficulty of finishing – that delivers such a brutal blow to our psyches.

Moving beyond starting to finishing is anything but empowering, energizing, or satisfying.

Second Guessing

It’s bound to happen.

When we start getting into the thick of the creative fight, we second guess ourselves.

We question whether we can actually do this…

We question whether it’s even worthwhile…

We wonder if we were just kidding ourselves when we started – that maybe it was a brief moment of irrational dreaming that we can blame on the beer, or on being tired or…

And of course, when we ask questions like these, we answer the only way they CAN be answered – negatively and self-destructively.

This wondering and questioning leads to the only place it can: into the abyss of despair and despondency.

Two Courses of Action

When you’re caught up in this despondent line of thinking, there are only two possible decisions and corresponding outcomes.

1.     Give up.

You can very easily throw in the towel and walk away.  There’s no shame in this, and sometimes it can be the right choice.

All you need to do is discard the silly idea, goal, or project that’s causing you so much discomfort and get back to real life, where you know what to expect – where things are comfortable and certain and require little change.

Or you can choose the second option:

2.     Keep going.

You can, much less easily, stay in the fight and keep going.

You can work through the despair and the despondency, even if it seems hopeless.  You can move through the darkness, even if it seems never-ending.

All you need to do is hold onto that silly idea, the one that’s causing you so much discomfort, and keep moving forward in your journey – where things are uncomfortable and uncertain and full of possible failure.

On Choosing a Course

Option 1, often enough, will cure your despondency.

At least for a moment.

But then you’ll reflect, years later, and realize, had you kept going, things might be different now.  And you’ll experience that sinking feeling of regret known only to those who try half-heartedly or don’t try at all…

Option 2 will most certainly lead to more despondency.

But only momentarily.

Eventually, you will move through the darkness and find the light – you will find your finish point, complete your project, and reach your goal.

Years later, you’ll reflect and wonder how you ever did it.  And you’ll experience that warm feeling of satisfaction known only to those who strive valiantly and, win or lose, finish.

Worth the Falls

I was asked a question the other day:

“When there’s no extrinsic payoff for all the passion, energy, and long hours you put into your work…when you feel defeated…how do you stay motivated?”

The answer is simple: I don’t.

I wish the answer could be more rewarding than this – I really do.

I wish there were a magic pill to swallow, a transformative meditation to perform, or a book I could read that would extinguish, once and for all, the doubt, fear, shame, and anxiety that doing hard, personal work always brings.

But there isn’t.

There’s nothing you can do but keep going, even when you’re unmotivated, weary, and broken…

And, of course, hope, believe, and know it will all be worth it in the end.

And you will wake up realize the walk was worth a thousand falls. [Stepdad]



Let us know in the comments below where you find your motivation to keep going.

p.s. if you need help getting started, finishing your project, or shipping it to the world, you might want to try my FREE guide and workbook, The Gunslinger’s Guide to Starting + The Gunslinger’s Workbook, so you can start, finish, and ship your project in 30 days or less.  Subscribe below to have it sent to your inbox:

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Relent Not One InchIn The Trenches Broadcast 002

If starting something from scratch is tough

And choosing a course of action, a direction, and a speed is scary

Then giving up a lucrative job in New York to bootstrap a business, create a paradigm-shifting, book publishing venture, and travel across the world in a van in 1080 days must be madness.

But that’s exactly what AJ Leon decided to do.


In AJ’s own words (click to tweet):

“I don’t want to relent not one f@#%ing inch.” [AJ Leon]

Choosing a Course

From an outside perspective, AJ had everything going for him; a financially stable job in New York, an amazing and supportive soon to be wife, and a lucrative promotion just days away.

Except on the inside, everything wasn’t so great.

AJ had a painful epiphany the day before a big promotion; he realized if he takes this promotion, he’s stuck in this lifestyle forever (a lifestyle that, while socially respectable, drained him of energy and passion).

The next day, AJ quit his job and chose his own course; no plan, no preparation, no waiting around for someone to tell him what to do.

If you want to understand what it means to draw your own map, talk to AJ.

About AJ Leon

AJ Leon is a writer, designer, entrepreneur, humanitarian and nomad.

He is the founder of Misfit Inc, where he helps brands take over the world.

You can find out more about his business at misfit-inc.com, and read about his travels at his personal branded website: aj-leon.com.

AJ and his wife, Melissa, are currently on a mission to travel across the world in 1,080 days.  You can follow along at pursuitofeverything.com.

AJ also produces Misfit Quarterly – a creative arts journal dedicated to showcasing the work of artistic carriers of the misfit flame.  The digital edition is free – but AJ also does a limited release run of the print version; something I’m a proud subscriber of.  If you’re interested, checkout misfit-inc.com/quarterly.

Amazing Quotes from this Equally Amazing InterviewMisfits

“I don’t want to relent not one f@#%ing inch.” (click to tweet)

“This is what I want and I’m going to live my life deliberately based on the choices I make.  If it crumbles in my hand, then at least it’s on me.” (click to tweet)

“True greatness is only a reflection of the failure that is probable in the pursuit of it.” (click to tweet)

“There has to be a possibility that whatever you’re doing may end in cataclysmic failure or it’s probably not worth doing.” (click to tweet)

“Don’t listen to anybody.” (click to tweet)

“More than ever before there is an absurd amount of propaganda out there in the world and there are people that …in a very well intentioned way guide you toward safety, and security, and compliance, and complacency…you should question all of that.”

“Take 3 or 6 months to write down what you want your one and only life to represent on this planet – what you want to accomplish – what you want to be different because you were here…write it all down and use that as a signpost moving forward…but don’t take your cues from society…it will lead you to despondence.”

“Keep on doing it…you’re going to f@#% up…keep on putting one foot in front of the other in defiance of a conventional and conformitive life.” (click to tweet)

Awesome Things We Discuss in this Interview

  • Quitting a successful career for uncertainty and possible failure
  • The power of bold, audacious moves
  • Creative entrepreneurship: what it takes to become a creative entrepreneur and why it’s so essential you become one
  • The absurd awesomeness of taking a 1080 day trip around the world (via a trailer named Pegassus)
  • Overcoming the fear of embarking on an uncertain journey
  • What true absence of fear is (hint: it’s not courage)
  • “No one ever did anything spectacular without taking great risk”
  • Why pressing deeper into uncertainty is the only way to deal with fear
  • How you harness creative energy to create tangible products
  • The power of writing in the morning
  • The power of solitude
  • Waking up at 430 in the morning for exercise and creative development
  • The importance of design in every project you ever create (looks matter!)
  • How aesthetics can set you, your business, or your art apart from everyone else
  • Artisan and Handcrafted work matters more now than ever
  • The mystical power of scarcity in building your brand
  • Adding value to your business through selective craftsmanship
  • The importance of combining art + business + creativity + personality
  • How AJ balances traveling across the world in a bus (The Pegasus), runs his business, creates his art, manages his social network, and still has time to get interviewed by Tom Morkes!
  • Making the leap to doing what you love without a safety net – advice AJ would never give to anyone else, but it was the only way for him to take control of his life (and the world is thankful)
  • Why you should not listen to anybody (the  irony isn’t lost on us)

Socialize w/ AJ Leon:




AJ Leon

More Show Notes:

Pursuit of Everything Manifesto by AJ Leon: Read AJ’s amazing eBook here (he’ll be kickstarting the physical edition very soon!).

Escape From Cubicle Nation: A great resource for people who want to quit their job and pursue their passion.

Good Life Project interview with AJ and Melissa Leon: Great interview.  Watch it.

Misfit Quarterly: Get the free digital edition here.  Or join me and be awesome and support an awesome initiative by grabbing the limited edition softcover.

Thanks so much for reading and listening!

Check back next week for another life changing interview.

I hope this interview inspires you to do great things.

Whatever you do, don’t stop creating…

- Tom Morkes

Join the Resistance:

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In the Trenches Broadcast 002: