The anatomy of an office hour: Why one-on-one meetings matter
Here at MaRS we provide a wide range of advisory services to startups, including strategic, technical and business counsel. Our office hours allow MaRS clients to meet one-on-one with a variety of advisors who have a range of expertise. Office hours provide a critically important opportunity to tap an advisor for domain expertise, check in on your progress, get an opinion on a specific event in the life of your startup, inquire about additional services at MaRS and much more.
I truly love working office hours in the information technology, communications and entertainment practice at MaRS. Every hour is a unique challenge—sometimes emergent, sometimes complex—and few are dull in any way, shape or form. I find office hours to be really energizing and, from the feedback we receive from our clients, it seems office hours motivate them, as well.
An office hour is a really unique thing in that it can be remarkably dynamic, yet equally amorphous.
My greatest weakness is in trying to “lead” a session; the best office hours are always the result of trading in detailed driving directions for a dog-eared road map, allowing the participants to develop a common sense of a destination absent of a specific route.
One common challenge that startup founders face is that at the times when you feel you’re in most need of perspective and guidance there often appears to be a paucity of resources. It follows, of course, that at the times when you need to drill down, focus and execute, everyone seems to come out of the woodwork to offer their two cents. The beauty of the office hour is that the engagement is client-driven and addresses an immediate need. Those of us who have built careers as entrepreneurs and advisors understand that the value of the perspectives of those people we let into our inner circle depends on timing.
Good advice that is thoughtful, well intended and perfectly timed is infinitely more useful than great advice that falls on untuned ears and closed minds.
The life of a startup is one of captured and missed opportunities, of groundbreaking moments in the evolution of an idea to a business. More often than not, an office hour identifies an issue, an angle, a notion—some essential thing—that may or may not have arisen before, but is deeply resonant at this exact moment in the history of the business.
Having been on both sides of the table for a good number of years, I appreciate that sometimes the best result of an office hour is that things are less resolved than when the meeting began. Often, 60 minutes together provides takeaways for both sides of the table, new angles on how to tackle unresolved issues and different ways of processing recent inputs into the gears that drive the startup.
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