From The Trenches: T. Boone Pickens: My Advice On How To Jump Start Any Meeting

]T. Boone PickensPHOTO BY MARTIN SCHOELLER.

During the seven decades of my career, I have had a great track record of building outstanding teams. I have always felt it important to concentrate on our goals, not the size of our organization.

To me, measuring profits has always been a better yardstick than the size of our budgets. There is little point in developing a $10,000 accounting system to track 10 cent pencils.

I credit much of my success to how well these teams performed. While knowing your team and supporting them in times good and bad are critical, defining a culture and setting expectations are equally essential. Communication is the key — there should be no surprises. If I’m in the loop, I’m on your team.

I find the most important question I can ask to start a meeting is simply, “Whaddya got?”

That question forces my team members to be well informed in their area of operation and to bring value to the table. Knowing the question is coming also encourages everyone to be in the game, and on their game, and triggers knowledge sharing among the team.

My team learns that only two possible responses will prompt my immediate scorn.

“Nothing.” Then why are you here?

And the worst: “Can I be honest with you?” Oh, so you haven’t been honest with me before?

Whenever a new team member invariably ventures into this territory, the more senior members wince, knowing how I will respond. More often than not, they posed the very same question at one time.