Curb: Larry Passes on Lunch
I watched a rerun of Curb Your Enthusiasm yesterday in which Larry David gets into it with a guy who asks him to lunch. Larry and this guy are both from LA, but they run into each other in New York.
The guy suggests that he and Larry grab lunch the next day.
“So let me get this straight,” the guy says. “I’m going to eat alone tomorrow!?”
Larry: “Why do you want to eat with ME?”
The guy: “Because we never get a chance to eat in LA.”
Larry: “Because we’re not friends.”
The guy: “We’re not friends because we never spend time together.”
Larry: “We don’t spend time together because I don’t want to spend time together.”
It’s the typical Curb Your Enthusiasm gag:
Larry says out loud the things that many of us think but are afraid to spit out. He is so blunt and so emotionally clumsy that he usually comes off as the fool. We laugh at Larry — the manner-less clown.
But how foolish is he, really?
Forget Larry’s sloppy delivery and focus only on the core message.
He says, in effect: I see no value interacting with you so I’m not going to waste my time doing it.
In life and in business, that’s a wise approach.
Business people spend so much time on worthless interactions. Meanwhile, they complain that they don’t have enough to get everything done.
I’ve been to countless breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffees, live meetings, virtual meetings and other get-togethers with people who bring little value to me and, most importantly, to whom I offer little value.
Why was I there?
Sure, in some cases, I discovered this only after meeting.
But too often, I should have known before I met.
I should have asked (at least to myself, if not out loud), “Why do you want to meet with me?”
If you don’t anticipate mutual benefit from the relationship, don’t take the meeting.
Better yet, turn the tables when you’re chasing a meeting and ask, “Why do they want to meet with me?”
If you don’t have a clear answer that has something to do with mutual benefit, don’t chase the meeting.
Sometimes, as difficult and awkward as it may be, you have to say “No.”
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