Big Ideas

Coffee Talk

Meetings are a core commonality in our culture.

This morning I had coffee with a mom from my older daughter’s elementary school — someone I’ve seen at drop-off and pick-up more or less every day for the last two years, and maybe greeted with a smile or a wave, but otherwise didn’t know anything about. But a week or two ago, we started talking while we waited for a red light to turn green, and it wasn’t long before we realized we had something in common besides our neighborhood school. Yes, that’s right: meetings.

The mom, Sherri, is a meeting planner by profession, preparing to rejoin the workforce after spending seven years at home with her two little girls. When she found out what I did, she suggested we get together so she could pick my brain about the latest trends and other developments in the industry. (That sound you hear is my boss, the talented and glamorous Michelle Russell, guffawing over the idea of me passing myself off as some sort of expert.) And that’s how we found ourselves sitting down over coffee this morning, talking about Web 2.0 and 3.0, the AIG Effect, ROI, and everything else I usually try to keep to myself when I’m meeting people for the first time. It was a nice time — a real back-and-forth conversation, with tangents and surprises and, on both sides of the table, lattes.

Close readers of this blog might have figured out that I like to write about the power of meetings. And I suppose this morning’s coffee talk demonstrated that yet again — the pervasiveness of meeting planning as a profession, the importance of face time, etc. But I think it’s also an example of something else I’ve blogged about — the role that serendipity plays, intangible but undeniable, whenever you meet with someone in the flesh. I mean, I wouldn’t have had coffee with Sherri today if that traffic light hadn’t turned red and kept the two of us from crossing the street after we dropped off our daughters a few weeks ago.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.