Leave it to Elon Musk to get to the heart of the matter. In a recent memo directed to Tesla employees, Musk described a number of actions that he plans to take to improve the company's performance, particularly in regard to the troubled Model 3 manufacturing effort.

As part of that memo, Musk included a list of productivity tips, including:

  • Avoid large meetings and keep them "very short" if you must hold them.
  • Avoid acronyms and company-specific jargon lest you confuse contractors.
  • Ignore corporate rules if they are obviously idiotic (i.e., most of them).

But the productivity tip that takes the cake and eats it too is this:

"Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren't adding value."

Wow. So true.

According to a 2014 study by Bain & Company, senior executives spend more than two days a week in meetings! Overall, organizations--including factory floor people, clerks, etc.--spend a mind-blowing average of 15 percent of their time in meetings.

Experts estimate that in the United States alone, companies waste $25 million A DAY on unnecessary meetings. That comes out to a whopping $37 billion (!!!!) per year.

Why does this happen? Two factors, really. First, social pressure says it's rude to leave a meeting. However, as Musk points out, "it is not rude to leave. It is rude to make someone stay and waste their time."

Thank you, Elon, for pointing out that huge elephant in the conference room.

The second factor is fear. People stay in meetings because they're afraid they'll miss something, even though anybody who's been in business for more than a year knows that if the first 10 minutes of a meeting are a waste of time, the remainder of the meeting will just waste more time.

So let's all take a cue from the world's most creative entrepreneur.

  1. Walk out of meetings that aren't useful. Just do it.
  2. If a phone call is wasting your time, say "OK. I gotta go. Bye." Then hang up.

Don't be afraid to be a bit offensive, because--and this is God's honest truth--the people who hold useless meetings or talk your ear off are impediments to your success, and indulging them isn't doing them any favors either.