Sex, Violence and Boring Meetings

“The markets will return to rationality the moment you have been rendered insolvent.” Dennis Gartman

One of the big curses of business is meetings, especially boring meetings – and there are lots of these. Yes, we all have to go to meetings but how do you concentrate when some airbag is going on and on and on about really nothing in particular?

My (Almost) Fatal Mistake

One day in New York at UBS, the London-based head of the investment bank came for a visit. A dinner was arranged and our desk, among others, was invited to attend. For some reason, a large Chinese restaurant downtown was chosen and as luck would have it I ended sitting up next to the Main Dude (MD). It had been a long day, we all had had a few drinks and everyone was noisily chowing down Chinese food and talking in the big open restaurant.

The MD was a nice enough fellow but you don’t rise to the highest ranks of an investment bank by having an opinion and stating it. Conversation was polite but strained and frankly….dull. I remember trying really hard to listen to the Main Dude as he was blathering on about some corporate something or other. I was feeling very relaxed and I was drifting far away (too much Tsingtao!). The sudden silence in the room awoke me from my slumber and my eyes snapped back open to see the MD glaring at me and the entire room of 100 or more people staring, amazed that I had just fallen asleep while the big boss was talking directly to me!

As a sales person you often accompany analysts to meetings with clients. The analyst will have prepared a lengthy presentation on his sector or on his top ideas in the sector and will present it to the client for about an hour. It often feels much longer. Your job as the sales person is to make sure the meeting starts on time and ends on time. You don’t have much else to do as the client wants to hear the analyst, not you.

So you sit there and pretend to listen for a full hour. Now multiply this by 8-10 meetings a day if you are on a marketing road show with an analyst. It is tedious at best. Your mind wanders, you relax and then BOOM! your snoring disrupts the meeting and you look like a jerk.

Don’t let this happen to you. There are several ways to stay awake in these situations.

Try and Pay Attention

Yeah, right. Who are we kidding?


Yes, everybody’s favorite subject. Think about sex. On and off. Get back on and off again… Well, there goes 1-2 minutes, 58 more to go.


This guy is a pain. I’m going to lean across the table, rip his face off, and run through the building knocking people down. Security will chase me, I’ll hide over there in research, set fire to the server and then jump out the window onto the back of the vegetable truck outside. There goes 2-3 minutes, 55 more to go. Snooooze.

The One Failsafe Method

Here is the one failsafe, one foolproof way to stay awake in any meeting no matter how long or boring. And it’s good for you. Straighten your legs out under the table. Cross your ankles and lift your feet off the ground 1-2 inches. Hold them there. It is easy for about 30 seconds. A minute later you start to strain. Two minutes later you might start to shake a little. Three minutes later sweat beads form on your forehead. Relax and put your feet down. Do it again. Nobody will notice and it’s great for the stomach muscles. What more could you want?

Falling asleep in meetings is generally considered poor form and, at the wrong meeting, could be a career killer. Practicing the subtle leg lift under the table will ensure this won’t happen to you and will keep you fit as well. Great meeting. Nice abs.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. C. Yonts
    October 3, 2011
    8:06 pm #comment-1

    Funny, Derek, whenever you started groaning almost-inaudibly and breaking into a cold sweat at meetings, I just assumed that the Immodium had worn off. Had I noticed the washboard abs, it all would have made more sense.

    One thing I think you failed to capture in this is just how incredibly dull analysts tend to be. If we were more entertaining / wittier / better dressed, we’d have joined sales – more money, shorter hours, and steak/Lafite client dinners rather than takeout fried rice at the desk.


    • Derek
      October 3, 2011
      8:26 pm #comment-2

      Ha! I agree with and thank you for your post, Charles. I would only point out that analysts are dull only when sober.

  2. Rex Lin
    November 3, 2011
    6:46 pm #comment-3

    Sleep prevention 101a: Take a sharp object and jab it straight into the back of your calf muscle. That usually does the trick.

    • Derek
      November 3, 2011
      7:51 pm #comment-4

      That is a great idea. Let’s test this. Next time we are in a boring meeting together I’ll jab a pen into your calf and see if it keeps me awake!

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