Karen Rubin's Ramblings

Be a Scheduling Super Hero

Posted by Karen Rubin on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 13:02 PM
Power Girl2

In the 7 weeks since I started my new job at Matrix, I have scheduled 127 meetings. This is about 18 meetings per week, or 3.8 per day. All of this scheduling has made me realize that, when scheduling meetings with people who don't work at your company, there is an art to being efficient without sounding like a jerk. 

There is a certain power dynamic involved in scheduling meetings. Who picks the time and where you are going to meet plays into this and we all have a choice.  You can use meeting scheduling to posture yourself as the more "important" party or aim to streamline your scheduling to be as efficient as possible. I am all about efficiency, so here are a couple quick do's and don'ts to make sure you don't waste anyone time or come off as a jerk.   

Don't tell someone to "Send me a calendar invite".  

I don't care who you are. Telling someone to "Send me a calendar invite" should always be followed by the sentence "I'm just so important and busy!" If you aren't willing to write that, don't tell someone to send you a calendar invite. There is almost no way this comes across as anything other than douchey. 

Don't send your calendar and say, "Pick a time". 

I know a lot of people LOVED Tungle. I know it is supposed to make life easier by making your calendar accessible to anyone. However, whenever I get someone's calendar sent to me with the instructions to "Pick a time" I get irritated. It's almost as if you are saying you don't have the time to have the conversation and set something up. (The one exception is with service appointments. I LOVE it when I am dealing with a service representative I can easily get on their calendar for a time that works for both of us.) 

Don't refuse to say when you are free. 

If I throw a couple of times out there to meet, and none of them work, send back some alternative times. Don't just say, "Sorry I'm not free during those times." Suggest some that do work for you, and hopefully we can find something that works for both of us. Everyone gets busy, but if you don't have time to look at your calendar and figure out when it might work for you, you also probably don't have time to meet. 

Don't assume that we are going to meet. 

There is a difference between scheduling a meeting and requesting a meeting. If you don't know the person you are asking to meet with, don't send an email that says, "I'd love to get lunch. When are you free?" This implies that the person has consented to meet, and it doesn't allow them to graceful decline. This might be what you are aiming for, but there is no doubt that is a jerky move. 

Do suggest a couple of times you are free. 

Why should we have to go back and forth 4 times before we can start saying what times work? I generally throw out a couple of times that work for me in the first email (or second if the first was to request a meeting). I give choices on a variety of days and times, hoping that one works for them. I think on average this can cut the number of emails required to schedule the meeting in half. 

Do suggest a place to meet, or indicate if you are flexible on location. 

Location can sometimes be tricky. I generally do my best to figure out where someone is located and then suggest a place that is convenient to both, or in the middle. If I don't know where they are located (and can't figure it out in 30 seconds by looking on their companies website) I'll suggest something near me, but indicate if I flexible. 

My goal in all of this is efficiency, not power plays. I'm scheduled a lot of meetings. If I can cut down the number of emails so that I can schedule a meeting in less than 5, I'm a happy girl. 

Do you have any tips for more efficiently meeting with people? 




Photo Credit: Levork

I Have a Top 1% Most Viewed Profile on Linked In....Really?

Posted by Karen Rubin on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 @ 11:02 AM

I have a hard time believing this. When I got it, I first thought "Cool!" then quickly switched to, "Really?" 

It seems I wasn't the only one. And Martin Lieberman did the math

If nothing else it was great marketing. Super personalized and definitey made me think about them. 

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Telling Your Story & Self Deprecation

Posted by Karen Rubin on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 @ 10:02 AM

In the last month, I've had the pleasure of meeting with at least 50 people in the Boston startup community. Every conversation includes some form of a personal story exchange. I tell what I've done over the past 10 years, they tell what they've done, and we look for the common ground to continue to conversation. Through this, I've realized not only how important a good personal story is, but also that it is no place for self-deprecating humor.  

I don't think I am alone when I say that I get uncomfortable when talking about my own succeses. I've realized that I deal with this discomfort by making fun of myself when telling my story. When talking about my degree in computer science (something I am quite proud of and which has served me well) I make a joke about the fact that it's from a liberal arts college. When talking about the 230 episdoes of HubSpot's video podcast I co-hosted over 4 years, I make a joke about how crazy HubSpot was to let me speak publically for the company. I never stopped to think about how others were percieving my personal story, until I started telling it over and over and seeing others tell theirs. 

There is no doubt that telling your story is an art. You want to highlight the high points, without bragging. You want to share the details, without talking for hours. You want to entertain, but not dimish what you are saying. A couple of weekends ago, on a drive to NH, my husband and I worked to retool my personal story. It's something you tell over and over, and I had a script. I needed to rewrite that script to take out the parts where I make fun of myself, and remove the parts that went into too much detail (another problem I have when talking.) 

It's taken a couple of weeks for me to feel comfortable with my new story. I think it tells what I have been up to in the last 10 years much more effectively, while also showing my best side. I expect others have different weaknesses in their own personal story. I'm expect it's easier to see what those are when you are telling it multiple times a day, but I encourage you to think about how you would answer the question, "Tell me your story?" Where are the weaknesses and what can you do to improve your story? 

Talking and Thinking About Blogging

Posted by Karen Rubin on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 @ 16:01 PM

I know I left you all hanging, but 14 days passed and I started talking again and all was right in the world. It seems when they remove polyps from your vocal chords, they also remove your ability to blog!

Lots has happened, here are the cliffs notes. 

  • I started talking again. 
  • My husband and I had a baby. 
  • I left HubSpot and have started at Matrix Partners. 
It's the last that has finally brought me back to blogging. Having a baby was certainly exciting, but it didn't make me want to blog. It's part of my life that is just mine and I didn't feel the need to make it public (although there are plenty of photos of Mia on Facebook). 

However starting a new job is fascinating. I am learning so much that I am actually feeling inspired to share some of it! Of course before I say anything useful, I needed to say that I can talk again and things are just fine. 

Here's a baby photo to tide you over until my next post. Hopefully sometime before Mia is 3. 

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Day 10: Still Silent Over Here

Posted by Karen Rubin on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 @ 07:08 AM

Day 10 of total silence, once I get through today, I still have 4 more to go!! At home, this isn't too much of a problem. Jared waits for me to type out what I want to say, and while it's probably very frustrating for him, I still manage without too much problem.

Work is a totally different story. If HubSpot is anything, it's fast paced, and it doesn't slow down for anything, even me! My job is solving problems, and I do that most effectivly by talking to people and finding fast solutions. Not being able to talk is putting a real cramp in my style! This is why I normally hate working from home, things are so much less effective when you have to do it all over IM and email. 

However, I am managing. I went in on Monday for a few hours. Completely whiped myself out, and decided that I should probably just work from home this week. Then I worked 10 hours straight yesteday and almost dropped dead. Today I plan to figure out a way to take better care of myself, while working from home. I'm setting my alarm to force myself away from the computer for 10 minutes every 2 hours. Then maybe I won't fall into a coma before Jared gets home. 

As for the not talking, I'm doing well. Not perfect. I've had 4 slip ups. All while I was distracted or sleeping.

  • "Hi" to my mom on Day 3, when she woke me up
  • "Yes" to Jared, as he was about to pull into a one way on Day 5
  • "I'm cold" to Jared, as I woke from a nap on Day 6
  • "Gemma" to the silly cat, as we were watching TV on Day 7

I also did one experiment, last night. I'm sort of embarassed by my weakness, but I told Jared I loved him, just to see how it sounded. I really wasn't interested in what it sounds like during week 1, but it's been 10 days!!! It certainly felt weird to talk, but my voice sounded good. 

The good news is I am mostly feeling better. I don't quite have all my energy back, so I haven't been running at all, which is almost as bad as not talking for me. I would really rather not come out of not talking, only to get sick because I pushed it too hard, so I am doing the best I can to take care of myself. 

Thanks for all the support and well wishes!

Topics: Radio Silence

Day 5: Starting to Get Frustrated

Posted by Karen Rubin on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 @ 14:07 PM

frustratedMy parents home is the perfect place to recuperate. It's in the woods, without any neighbors or noise for distraction. It's an absolutely beautiful location that should really be used as a get away resort or spa. The house is filled with comfortable places to curl up and take naps, all while being bathed in sun and fresh air. To top it all off, my Mom is an exceptional cook who makes all my favorites when I come home. 

This means lots of people come here to recuperate and my parents have done this a few times. They know the drill. So this morning when I woke up and was feel blue, they were expecting it. They have noticed a trend when people have surgery. You come home feeling like crap, sleep up for a day or two, and then have a really good day. Then the post-surgery blues set in. You want to be feeling even better, but it takes time. That's where I am at. 

Physically, I'm doing pretty good. I'm sleeping better again, don't have to take naps every 30 minutes, and can eat a lot more (but not everything). My throat still hurt, but I'm probably back to 80%. The thing is, I want to be 100%...NOW!!

I'm also getting to the point where not being able to talk is frustrating me. Sure the computer and iPad work great. The whiteboard gets me by, but you really can't have indept conversations with these tools. It's all very limiting. Try explaining something in more than 2 sentences on a whiteboard, it doesn't really work. 

So I'm changing scenary. We head to New Hampshire tonight to get away for the weekend. I love being in New Hampshire, because it's all about relaxation. There is no internet, so I can't work. I can't expect to get things done and do stuff. I plan to spend the next 2 days, on the couch, reading my book. Hopefully I can kick the blues by the time I go back to work on Monday. 

(Photo Credt:  Zach Klein)

Topics: Radio Silence

Day 4: Feeling Sort of Human

Posted by Karen Rubin on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 @ 09:07 AM

sleepingI think what I have learned from all this is that I really don't like drugs. It's just not my style. I'm finally off the codine and out from under the drain of the anethesia and starting to feel human, but the last couple of days were a drag!

I think I slept 20 hours yesterday. I would wake up, and just not be all there, and go right back to bed. I hate being in bed on beautiful days, but it just wasn't working to stay awake. So I did what had to be done and slept it off. The good news is today I feel much more human. 

As for the not talking, it honestly hasn't been hard, but I haven't really felt like talking much. I did wake up yesterday morning to my Mom peeking in on me and I whispered "Hello." Then freaked out that I had talked! I also spent all night having dreams in which I was talking, but was worried about the fact that I was talking, so clearly my brain is thinking about it. 

I've continued to use a combination of the white board, iPad and computer to talk. The white board is easiest for very quick things. The iPad and computer are necessary for actual conversations. It's slow but it works. It really makes you think about what you say, a lot less excess chatter coming from me these days. My Dad wonders if that will be a perminante change, but somehow I doubt it. 

Today my challenge is planned for dinner. My cousin Kara (not the one I work with HubSpotters, my other cousin Kara, yes I have two of them!) is having a birthday dinner at a local Mexican place. It's early enough that I am planning to go for a little while to see the family before I fall asleep. The real question is, what will I find to eat and how will I manage talking with a group! Should be interesting. 


(Photo Credit: Smath)

Day 2: Forget Talking, I Miss FOOD!

Posted by Karen Rubin on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 18:07 PM

describe the imageI made it down to Ashford today to get babied by my parents while Jared goes back to work. It's nicer to be here than at home, because my Dad is home all day to give me some human interaction. I think I can handle not talking, but being alone all day and not talking, forget it!

The best way to communicate is on the commputer. My Mac laptop and iPad both have text to speech applications that work just fine. It's certainly a slower, less fluid conversation, but it allows me to make my points. Thanks goodness to Tomcat and Chip (HubSpot's IT ninjas) for letting me take an iPad from work while I am away. I need it for work, but it's even better than the laptop for talking since it's so convienet. The only downside with talking through the computer, is it's real hard not to get sucked into my work email. I have to keep reminding myself I need to rest in order to heal! 

The only problem today is eating. My throat is still pretty sore and I miss real food! Mom made me some carrot ginger soup, which is amazing, and got me some Odwalla smoothies. It feels like I am actually getting some nutritional value, in addition to plenty of ice cream. I really hadn't expected the throat to be this bad. I figure yesterday would be tough, but I would be back to more normal food by today. Hopefully tomorrow I can return to the land of the eating. 

For now, it's lots of sleeping and resting. The codine makes it hard to sleep, so I spent the afternoon in the hammock with a audio book. Nothing better than having someone read to you to make you sleep. 

Topics: Radio Silence

Day 1: Surgery Complete - The Experiment Begins

Posted by Karen Rubin on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @ 18:07 PM

no talkingSurgery went fine and was done by about 10AM this morning. Dr. Burnes was great and told Jared everything went fine, there were no surprises and this is going to make talking so much easier and nicer for me (when I can talk again.) Jared was SUPER excited to hear that I'll like talking MORE. :-) 

Coming out of surgery wasn't much fun, I don't think it ever is. I was worried that my fist instinct would be to talk, because last time I had general anethesia I came out yelling. I did much better and haven't talked at all, but I did moan a couple of times. The hospital staff was really good at reminding me I couldn't talk. A number of hospital staff thought I couldn't hear as well. I had to keep reminding them that I could hear, they didn't need to write things down! I think maybe they just liked my marker board. 

The wierdest thing about not talking are the sounds I make without realizing I am making sound. The noises I don't even conciously think about. The first sip of water they gave me felt so good, I went "mmmm," which of course I shouldn't do. It's a lot more than just not talking, which isn't as hard as not making the little noises. 

Using the white board worked well at the hospital, but at home it's just too slow. I've been using the text to speech software on my mac. I type, and when I am done, the computer reads what I wrote. it's a lot better than trying to convey myself in a couple of words on the white board. I also used Google + to video chat with my parents, they talked and I typed via Google chat. It actually worked pretty well and will probably be how I get a lot of work done when I am back at HubSpot.

The only bad thing is I have a killer sore throat and half my tongue is numb. I got down a milk shake earlier and some mashed potatoes, but eating is hard and I don't have much appetite. I think I am going for another chocolate milk shake for dinner. If that's my biggest complaint, I'm doing pretty well. 

I'm off for the night, hopefully tomorrow the sort throat will be feeling much better and I can start eating some real food! Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful wishes, emails, texts and messages. 


(Photo Credit: waitscm)

Topics: Radio Silence

14 Days of Radio Silence

Posted by Karen Rubin on Sun, Jul 24, 2011 @ 10:07 AM

If you know me at all, you know I talk... a lot. I've always talked a lot. The next two weeks are going to be interesting as I'm not going to be able to talk AT ALL!!! Watch while I tell you all about it, and how I plan to cope.