Steve Jobs was known for scheduling a meeting with someone then when that person arrived, asking them if they would go for a walk with him. Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs contains stories of CEOs, board members, colleagues, employees, designers, etc. walking with Jobs instead of sitting in an office across from someone to discuss their business. People can look at that as a bit quirky; I think it’s marvelous.
Last week, a good friend arrived at my home to talk about her job search and career. However, the first thing she said was, “Let’s go for a walk. It’s such a wonderful day outside.” I agreed. I had been working at my computer for hours and was ready for a break.
Once outside, I gave my friend the choice of walking to the Hudson River or to Central Park. She had never walked down my street before to get to the water but we didn’t go far until she said, “Let’s go to the park. I want to see the fall foliage.”
We did an about face and as we strolled—strolling is slower than walking—we caught up on our ‘personal’ business then talked about the progress she was making in her job search. A skilled salesperson, she had held high level jobs and earned the respect of her peers in the industry. However, after the company she was working for was sold to a Middle Eastern owner in late 2010, she was let go. She quickly networked with her peers and clients but could not find a job. Then medical issues in her family halted her progress. She was meeting with me to help her get motivated and up-to-speed on the career market.
Our conversation flowed easily walking to Columbus Circle in the shadow of the Time Warner Building. However, it was a little tricky to talk as we navigated our way through dozens of people near the entrance to the park who wanted to sell us a ride in a pedi-cab or direct us to where we could rent a bicycle. We interrupted each other when we had to make decisions on which direction we should go within the park to get the best view of the colors of the leaves. The wind was blowing and I hadn’t dressed appropriately, so we strolled back to the Time Warner Building and meandered around there window shopping.
During our business meeting, we were talking about the things that we would have discussed if sitting in my living room. We talked about how she needed to fill out her LinkedIn profile and include more recommendations. She talked about the fact she needed to go through and contact her colleagues since she last contacted them almost a year ago and they could be thinking she had found a job already. She talked about applying for a job where she was already turned down for a previous one, a reach but a chance as well. She talked about being more assertive and aggressive in order to seek a position in another field where she could utilize her skills.
My friend went with me to do some shopping and we strolled back to my home where we talked about the economy and our futures. When she left to go to a gathering of colleagues who had worked at the same company, she knew just the person she wanted to ‘target’ about a job. I smiled since it seemed by then that she was ready to find the job that had been eluding her.
The ‘walking meeting’ we had helped me unwind, relax, and enjoy the changing of the colors in Central Park. Steve Jobs had a wonderful idea—and I’m glad my friend did as well.