Office Hours Update / by Nate Westheimer

As you may recall, a few weeks ago I announced a new experiment called "Office Hours": I opened six 15-minute time-slots in my schedule -- setting aside Fridays from 11:00am - 12:30pm -- and opened my doors in an effort to meet folks I ordinarily wouldn't get to meet. I'm very pleased to report that the first week my experiment was an absolute success, as each visitor turned out to be proof positive for the concept of Office Hours!

Besides the people being perfect, I found the setting to work very well also. 15-minutes was just enough to get the important stuff out in the open fast, to get down to business, and say our goodbyes. I'm sure I'll see a few of the folks I met again, but as a first meeting, a quarter of an hour is just fine.

To give you an idea of who I met and why Office Hours was the perfect venue, here are a few sentences on each person I met:

  1. Suki Fuller (@sukifuller) took my first time slot. She's an independent competitive intelligence consultant who works for big pharma companies in New Jersey -- certainly outside my everyday network. Suki's also a social media buff, and is a co-organizer of Social Media Breakfasts here in New York City. She signed up because she wanted to meet me and also ask me in person to be the guest at one of the breakfasts in the near future. I accepted, of course, and we spent the final few minutes of our time brainstorming on some ideas I had for the New York Tech Meetup.
  2. Cat Laine (@cat_laine) was up next (now this is a great story!). Cat is the Deputy Director of AIDG.org which "helps individuals and communities get affordable and environmentally sound access to electricity, sanitation and clean water" in developing countries. Now, AIDG has a unique approach to their work, in that they use business incubation as a primary delivery mechanism for the technology these areas need. So how did this drive Cat to me? Cat Googled "Entrepreneur in Residence" because AIDG wants to get more seasoned entrepreneurs involved with startups in developing countries (smart!). The post I wrote back when I joined Rose Tech Ventures ranks 4th or 5th in Google for the phrase, so that brought Cat to my blog. Coincidentally, Cat's Googling and clicking happened  on the same day I announced my Office Hours! So, Cat came in with about 6 prepared questions, and after a breif introduction to her program she asked away, I answered, and in 15 minutes we got a lot done!
  3. Jason Adler (@jason1706) was the next person I got to meet with. Jason is an MBA student at Forham and wants Fordam to be more involved in the NY tech community. Great! Jason and I took our 15 minutes to do regular introductions and chat specifically about the Forham Finance Society, which Jason is the President of, and talk about my plans for the NYTM.
  4. The last person I was supposed to meet with -- unfortunately she got sick and couldn't make it in the end -- is a friend of mine from Brandeis who now works for Digitas. Neither of us imagined we'd end up in the digital world back in college, but now we're both very involved. Unfortunately, we rarely hang out and tragically we never talk business. When I announced Office Hours, Laura was the first to sign up, seeing that it was a great way she and I could quickly catch up and talk business. I look forward to her attending office hours next time!

Speaking of next time, you can already go and register for January the 2nd. Already 3 slots are taken (one will be via Google Video Chat), so hurry up and sign up!

As for Office Hours, I'm very convinced this is a good thing and will be encouraging friends and others to do Office Hours as well. It's a wonderful way to meet new people and perform a little -- and just a little -- triage on your calendar.

If you do Office Hours, let me know! I'll be the first to come by and say hello!