Let’s be clear: I hate meetings.

Hate them with a passion. Want to get a whole lot of nothing done? Invite a dozen people, give them an unclear goal, no agenda, and 60 minutes to have at it. Better yet, do it on a conference call. Rinse, and repeat.

That said, there is one kind of meeting that does work. Always. And whenever I take part in this kind of meeting, I wonder why more of my life can’t be spent enjoying its pleasures.

What type of meeting is that?

It’s the I want to learn about youTell me about your workWhat is your passion meeting. The no-holds-barred, deep-dive, REALLY-Get-To-Know-You meeting that goes deep and leaves no stone unturned.

The meeting that simulates a cocktail party of two. With chocolate.

And that’s what All Nippon Airways is helping me do next week with some amazing social entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations in Tokyo.

Here’s the deal:

All Nippon Airways created a tool called Flight Connections. It’s really cool. You log in with your LinkedIn account, and it maps all your connections onto the geographic regions you click. I click “San Francisco”, I’ll see a hefty majority of my connections mapped onto the screen. If I click “Buenos Aires”, I’ll see a bunch more. Want to connect with folks in a given region? Just click.

For this trip, I clicked “Tokyo”. And here’s what I found.

First, some old friends and acquaintances:

Like Hiroyasu “ichi” Ichikawa, the author of The Social Good Guide,who I met at the Skoll World Forum some years back. These days, Ichi is focused on helping non profit organizations to better use social media through his work at the Social Company. He does so in a variety of ways, including organizing events like Social Good Summit Tokyo Meetup. Cool.

Or Emily Balistieri, (aka @tiger), an old colleague of mine from Twitter who once came into work so wet from a San Francisco rainstorm she spent two hours blow-drying herself with a hairdryer as I ate a breakfast burrito. These days, Emily is a translator extraordinaire, and also does work with Zapuni, a nonprofit organization that unites Japanese visual artists with world-renowned musicians to help children affected by the Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. Fantastic.

And some then there are new connections:

Through another LinkedIn pal, Daniela Papi, the Deputy Director for the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Said Business School, I got connected to a secondary LinkedIn connection: Peace Boat.

Peaceboat is a nonprofit organization founded on the philosophy that any problem faced by any community is a global challenge that must be tackled through cooperation between people, organizations and governments of the world. To address this, Peaceboat creates voyages across the globe to learn, share, and mobilize communities.

These are the types of people and organizations I’ll be meeting next week in Tokyo. I’m eager to learn from them, and to ask lots endless open-ended questions in efforts to dig deep and understand what makes them really tick as they navigate a world of doing good by doing well.


So, the next time you have the chance, schedule a get-to-know-you meeting. A who-are-youI-want-to-know-what-you-do meeting. Spend time just learning about people who do interesting things, with no agenda whatsoever. Chances are, you’ll learn immensely from the experience, and end up feeling inspired — perhaps enough to take on some of those other kinds of meetings that are already in your daybook;)


Disclosure: As explained above, All Nippon Airways is sending me to Japan to take part in these learning meetings with social entrepreneurs. As such, this post was created in partnership with ANA – All Nippon Airways. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of ANA.


For more from Claire, read her free ebook on developing a morning routine, check out her blog, follow her on LinkedIn, or find her on the Twitters via @claire.

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