Dan Costa: Welcome to Fast Forward, part of an ongoing conversation about living in the future. My guest today is Mamie Kanfer Stewart, the founder of Meeteor and a meeting expert. Meeteor is a company that makes meetings more effective. We're going to talk about the future of work, of meetings, and new interfaces for the workplace. Mamie, thanks so much for coming by.
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Mamie Kanfer Stewart: Thank you so much for having me today.
Thanks so much for coming on. Let's talk a little bit about Meeteor and about productivity. I read that you grew up having productivity on your mind, that you were sent off to school every day with the quote: "Have a productive day." What is the origin of that?
Growing up I remember by dad leaving the house right before I was off going to school and always saying, "Have a productive day" as he ran out of the house. Of all the things that a parent can say to their child, and I have children now and that's not what I say to them, but that's what my dad said to me, and it really stuck that every day was about doing something productive, moving yourself, moving your life, whatever it was, forward. I actually started my first business when I was in 5th grade.
Was it a meeting planning business? Productivity software?
It was not. It was not, but it was the same concept of I can do this better than how it's being done. It was a summer camp. I didn't like going to summer camp. For anyone else there who didn't like summer camp, I totally feel your pain, and I was like I can do this better. I scheduled everything out, I hired all the staff, I coordinated all the programming, and made it run really smoothly. I knew I could do it better. The idea of productivity to me is the same thing. No matter what you're doing, there's probably a more efficient, more effective way to do it.
So you come up with Meeteor. I think everybody understands the need there. Everybody hates meetings. Everybody complains about meetings. Meetings waste a ton of time. You approach the situation you go, "You know what? I can fix that." Talk a little bit about how Meeteor works.
We have a couple components to Meeteor. The primary component is our software. The origin of Meeteor actually comes out of my family business. I should have said that because my dad is a wonderful person, we have a family business, it's called GOJO. Purell is our claim to fame, Purell hand sanitizer. I got my first life experience as an adult inside of our family business. Meetings there were run extremely smoothly and very well, always an agenda, always follow-up items, very clear. When I went out to the real world after that I was like, whoa, this is not how the rest of the world works. Meeteor was built as a technology on the practices at GOJO. I was like we can do this through technology. Now that the world has evolved and there's so much happening online, why are we doing this in paper form when we can do it online?
The core component is our technology, which helps you plan a thoughtful agenda, take clear notes that are articulated out as tasks, decisions, and learnings, and then manage all of that follow-through. You have the great meeting conversation and that leads into great action. We also offer consulting services because changing how people work can be tough business, and it's great for one manager to change their team, but it's better if a whole company can change, so we'll help you do that, and then we do kinds of skill-building workshops and webinars and all kinds of stuff to help people develop their own skills around meetings.
So let me tell you how I do meetings. I send out a meeting invite in Outlook I and in the body of it I'll have an outline of we're going to talk about x, y, and z. Then there'll be a discussion as the fourth point. How does Meeteor make that better?
Number one, a meeting agenda is not the same thing as a list of things that you're going to do in the meeting. This is like the number one, if you're going to take away one thing from this conversation, this is it. Start by figuring out, why are we having this meeting and what are we going to achieve? We often are good at putting things like, "We're going to discuss this, we're going to review that, we're going to come up with this," but what we don't do is say, "At the end of this meeting, what will we have achieved? What will be different in the world because we've achieved this particular outcome?"
If you know that at the end of this meeting we're going to have a list of ideas for further consideration, or we're going to have a decision on this topic, then you can plan the agenda accordingly and you'll know at the end of the meeting if it was a good use of your time. Figuring out what the agenda items are, what you're going to do is good, but start with the whole result you want to achieve first.
Meetings also reflect the cooperate culture. I think that's probably why you have the consulting business, because the tool alone isn't necessarily going to change the behavior. Can you talk a little bit about changing hearts as well as minds?
Yes. Company culture is huge and messy and complicated, but meetings are one of the levers you can pull if you want to change company culture. Almost everyone in your company will attend meetings. They are where human dynamics and power and authority and all those stuff kind of comes out, and there are rituals and practices that you can really control in that setting. If you're attending a bunch of meetings and you don't feel like it's a good use of your time, that impacts how you feel about your company. It affects how you feel about your colleagues who are wasting your time, how you feel about this company where you're overly stressed because you have so much to do and you don't have time to do your "real" work because you're too busy sitting in these meetings that are not "real" work.
If you plan a thoughtful agenda and you invite the right people to your meetings, suddenly now you've shifted and created a much bigger sense of respect that, "Oh, I'm invited to this meeting because there's a purpose to this meeting, there's a reason I need to be here, the person who invited me is being thoughtful about it." That's one of the human sides that can change. There's a whole bunch of others. I mean like inside of the meeting. When you think about there's one person who's always dominating the conversation, you're like, "How do I control that one person and get them to quiet down?", or, "How do I get the quieter people to speak up?" We have a practice called Norms.
In our meeting template in Meeteor, when you're filling out more than just the description box in Outlook, but you're actually filling out the questions that help you get to a thoughtful agenda. One of them is around Norms. What are the behaviors that you want to promote in this meeting? How do you expect people to behave?
You could have a Norm that says, "Quieter voices please speak up, louder voices please step back." Then when you're facilitating the meeting everyone's seen that that's a Norm for this meeting, and then as the meeting facilitator, or really anyone in the meeting, you can say, "I've noticed we haven't had our quieter people speaking up, and since that was one of our Norms, I'd like to make some space for the quieter people to speak up." You're using your agenda-building practice to create expectations for behavior, and then you can then apply those in the meeting and help facilitate. You don't have to be the weird meeting leader who's sitting there thinking, "How do I get that person to stop talking. I don't want to just say 'shut up', and I also don't want to call on someone out of the blue and just say 'Mamie, what do you think?' and put someone on the spot and make them feel awkward."
I do that all the time. I think making it transparent, making it in advance and so that everybody sees that it's not personal is a good idea. I'm not telling anybody to shut up, I'm not telling anybody to speak up, I'm saying these are the standards we all agreed on in advance, so you're all on the same page.
Exactly. And it helps people become more aware when you have Norms. Another one we like to use a lot is to use a back burner or a parking lot. Say, "If an off-agenda topic comes up, let's put it on the back burner and talk about it later." People will start to realize that they're raising issues that are off topic and they'll either stop doing it or they'll acknowledge it when they're saying it. "I have an idea, I know it's a back burner topic, I just want to put it to the side," and they'll self-regulate. Whereas if you don't have that practice you're just not even aware that you're doing some behaviors, so creating those Norms and making them explicit amongst the whole team can really help change that cultural dynamic.
Interesting. We've got a question from our audience.
Audience: Does your platform use chatbots at all?
Ooh, interesting. We do not use chatbots inside of our app, but we have a Slack integration that is coming out before the end of this month. And we do have what we call our Meeteor bot, and you can talk to him, her, we haven't decided, gender neural, non-gendered. You can talk to Meeteor bot and you can plan your meeting agenda, you can take notes, all kinds of stuff within Slack using that kind of bot experience.
That's very cool. There's a lot of productivity software out there. There's great chat applications, there's great to-do list managers, all those different things. You've decided to focus on the meeting itself. Why did you go after the meeting space and try and fix that?
In a large part because there are really good tools for lots of other things. We have an integration with Slack coming out soon, we have one with HipChat, we have with Outlook, and coming out with Google soon. So there are a lot of great tools already and we don't want to replace those, but the other collaboration tools are missing out on this thing around meetings. On average people spend, well, managers can spend about like 40% of their time in meetings. That's a lot of time to be spending in meetings and not have a software tool to help you do that and use that time effectively. When we looked at the other products on the market, we saw that there were great tools for general collaboration, online document sharing, or task management, but what was missing was this focus on meetings.
Our platform is actually much bigger than meetings, so we have a full, integrated task system. If you think about your day as how I spend my time, I have things I do by myself and I have things that I do with a group. The things I do by myself are tasks, the things I do with a group are typically meetings of some sort or another, but I need a seamless way for all of this activity to flow. When tasks come out of a meeting, if I have to write them down by hand or I get them in an email, then I have to copy and paste them into my task app, and then that's where I manage them, and then at the next meeting somebody's asking me did I do that task from that other meeting, it's just kind of messy. What our system's trying to do is streamline this process so that your whole day is in one single space. Whether they're tasks that you're just managing for a project, whether it's tasks that come out of a meeting, it's all in one place. We're not totally trying to replace all those other tools because they're really good, but we're trying to find ways to help streamline the work flow.
Yeah. And there's so many tools on the market right now.
Just here at PCMag we're using Asana, we're using Slack, we're using our own personal to-do lists. Then we're using Google Calendar, we're using Google Tasks. It's amazing how many tools are being brought into the workplace. How does Meeteor slide into that? You've got integrations soon with Slack, what about some of the other integrations?
This was a good learning as a business person, that Calendar is king when it comes to meetings. That we cannot compete. If we're not inside people's Calendars, it's really, really hard for people to even think about planning an agenda somewhere else. So integrations are huge. We're seeing it all over the place. Products like Zapier where you can connect apps that don't actually connect, that's where we're going. We don't want to go to a billion different places, we just want everything to flow seamlessly, and the more our product can talk to each other, the more effective we are as users and the better value experience we get out of them. To some extent, having one humongo app is also not the answer. We can see what happens when products get too complicated with bells and whistles and trying to do everything, so having more specialized apps that talk to each other I think is really the optimal solution.
Is there a target market for your product? Are you looking at small businesses, medium businesses, does it scale all the way up into enterprises? Where's your sweet spot?
If you have meetings, we are here for you. If you have meetings, we are here for you. We don't really differentiate. Our product works with organizations of all different sizes, teams of all different sizes. You can work by yourself on our app and not have any of your colleagues in it, or you can put 100 or 200 or 500 of your best friends in. It doesn't really matter, it's built to scale.
We talked a little bit about chatbots and about AI and the future of work and sort of the audio input. That audio component, right now all this is being done on screens with keyboards, but when you add audio, audio seems like a fundamental part of the meeting process, there's some really interesting things you could do there.
Yes. Typing in general is one of the hardest ways to input information, and it's one of the reasons why meeting notes are often so terrible is because nobody wants to take notes. Taking notes even typing is kind of awkward, most people prefer to take notes by hand. But it feels like there's a better way to do this with the rise of products like Google Home and Alexa and Siri, that at some point typing up meeting notes will be a thing of the past, and what we'll really do is be talking and saying, "Alexa, capture this decision," or, "Alexa, make this to-do for me," or, "Siri, make this to-do for me," and it will generate our meeting notes and generate our tasks for us and we won't have to type them in.
It seems so logical. This show itself is going to be recorded as a video, we're going to have a transcript that's going to be made, and then that's going to serve as the text-based transcript for the show. All of that's automatic. I'm not going to re-type everything that we said on camera, and yet in a meeting that's basically what we have to do.
Well, the tough part is that people don't want to be recorded. You want to have a safe space. If you're saying things that you're like, "This might be a good idea, I'm not 100% sure," or like, "I think I remember these are the numbers, but I'm not 100% sure," if you're not comfortable speaking your mind at a meeting because you're worried this is going to be memorialized forever and there's going to be a transcript and anyone in the company's going to be able to find out what I said and point back into history and say, "You said that thing," that feels super uncomfortable.
Finding the balance between capturing audio information, transcribing it, making it available and continuing to keep a safe space where people can brainstorm or share perspectives that might be minority perspectives and where they get pushback, that's a fine dance that we're going to have to do in the workplace.
Even if it was just creating a summary, and say, "Okay, there's no microphone on for 45 minutes, but the last two minutes we're going to go down on the record and this is what we want to commit to." That in itself could be pretty amazing and far better than emailing around everybody's notes after the meeting.
And that's a practice we recommend right now. If you don't want to take notes in your meeting, that's fine, reserve the last five minutes to do what we call a wrap-up where you ask the group, "Okay, what are our next steps? What are the key takeaways that we want to make sure, like any information we want to make sure other people know about? What are the decisions we've made, and what are the action items and who's going to do them by when?" Just those moments, the last couple minutes where you capture that information, send it by email, put it in our system somewhere, you actually had to do a lot of things. One, you've now clarified what the meeting accomplished and you don't walk out of the meeting going, "Why did we have that meeting? What did we just decide?" You've created some clarity and made people feel really good because that was a good use of their time, you got to some outcomes, and you've now captured them so that they're on record, people can access them who weren't in the meeting. There's so many good things. It will just be a total boost when it can be done via audio instead of typing.
What are your feelings on teleconferencing, the video communications? We can now do it, every laptop has the camera, we have the connections, everybody can find each other on Skype or on Google Hangouts, and yet I almost never do those types of meetings.
You never do them because you're not with colleagues around the world?
No, they're everywhere and I've done it ...
You just prefer the phone?
I think I prefer the phone.
Interesting. We love audio. I mean I love all kinds of meetings, but I actually really do like where you can see people. I feel like it's really hard to totally be immersed in something when you can't see the other person. It's really easy to get distracted, and you don't always get to see their expressions and things like that. It's hard when it's a huge group. We're about 12 people, we're in five different countries in our business, my colleagues are in five different countries. So we do a lot of meetings by Skype or Google Hangouts, and it's not the same as being in person, but it's way better than audio where you just don't really connect at all. That's where the future of meetings are. We have TelePresence in my family's business, and that is a whole other thing, but it's like ginormous screens and even that is so helpful. I feel like I see all their hairs out of place-
Like a proprietary system that's rolled out?
So a high-end one, not just ...
It's super high-end.
... Skype or ...
No, no, super high-end where it's like video conferencing, but it's like on crack. It makes a huge difference than seeing little tiny boxes of people's faces. I think we're moving in that direction, which is a good thing because you see body language. Especially if you're working with people who have different cultural backgrounds than you, where English might not be their first or native language and you're trying to understand each other, seeing body language, seeing their facial expressions, all of those little pieces help to build relationships, it helps to build understanding, so it's good stuff.
You obviously love meetings.
I do love meetings.
You have a business about meetings, I think that comes across. What meetings do you hate?
I do not like any meetings where I don't get an agenda in advance and I don't know why I'm going. That doesn't happen that often because most people that I meet with now-
They've got Norms and they know better.
Oh, they know, they know better. Actually I went to a meeting not that long ago where they sent us a pre-reading packet. It was like 60 pages long. It was a two-day board meeting. I did all of the reading because that's what good board members do and good meeting participants do, and I showed up and the first part of the meeting was great. Then we got into the next section and the woman who was leading it basically repeated everything that was in the pre-reading. And I was like, "Why? Why are you doing this? We read the material. Why can't we just be in discussion now?" Those kinds of meetings, not good.
If you think about the time of the people who are in the meeting, if you're gathering five people for half an hour, it's really hard to get those five people to spend half an hour together all at once. Finding the calendars lining up, scheduling, it's complicated stuff. Getting 30 minutes from each of those five people individually, really easy. If you're just going to present information in your meeting, like don't. Just don't. Send it to them as a memo, meet with people one-on-one. If you're going to bring people together, take advantage of the fact that you have those five brains in the room at the same time and they can engage with each other. Do as much as you can outside the meeting to share information so that your time in the meeting can be for engagement. Those are the kinds of meetings that I really like, where I get to talk and have fun and be with people. Not so fun if I'm just sitting there, listening, and being like, "Why? Why are we doing this?"
I'm going to send this interview to everybody in the office just because I feel exactly the same way. Another question from our audience.
Audience: How do you get people to show up on time?
That's a good question. That's a really tough, tough question. One is start the meeting on time without them and don't go backwards. We have a concept we call feathering in. Let me make the caveat, if the person is a senior person who is absolutely required to be in this meeting, you should wait for them to start. Actually, instead of starting and then recapping them, if they're going to be just a few minutes late, give everyone who's sitting around waiting and say, "Okay, we're not going to start until Mamie arrives, so if you want to be on your devices, fine. If you want to go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, fine. We're just going to wait." Let people choose how to use that time. Don't start and then recap.
If it's someone who is not essential to making that decision or it's not a senior person, start your meeting without them, and when they come in, don't stop and then restart. Just say, "Glad you could join us, have a seat, this is where we are in the agenda," and keep going. If they have a question, they can ask, but you really want to just push through. If you create this norm that my meetings start on time and if you're not here you're going to miss something, too bad for you, people will start to move towards making sure that they're on time.
The other thing you can do is if it's someone who's chronically late, like a specific person, have a talk with them. Ask them, "What's going on that you're constantly running late?" Maybe they're scheduling meetings back to back, which is not always their fault, but it's really hard, Google and Outlook I love you, but meetings should not be 30 minutes long with no time to walk down the hall or go to the bathroom. Most people don't schedule their meeting for 25 minutes, so that can be one reason why people are walking in late. Plan to start your meeting a few minutes late so you have time to get settled in. If you have a jam-packed agenda, give yourself a couple extra minutes in the time you're requesting so you don't have to feel rushed if you start at 9:05 or 9:07. In my mind, if you're showing up late to meetings, it's not all that different than turning in work late. Meetings are part of your job. It's how work gets done, the same way that doing tasks is how work gets done, so if someone's chronically showing up late to meetings, have a chat with them and try and figure out what's going on. Is there something you can help, a roadblock, something you can do differently, and if not, let them know that this is not an acceptable way to be at work.
Good answer. Another question from our audience.
Audience: How do you train people to get comfortable with doing meetings in a different way? Is there an online guide that goes with Meeteor?
Yes. Definitely come to our website, we have a lot of blog articles, blog.meeteor.com. Meeteor has two 'e's, M-E-E-T, like you're in a meeting. We have a number of articles about how to introduce meeting practices into your team, different ways, either doing it by sharing some of our blog articles for a particular practice, having a meeting about your meetings, might sound a little bit weird, but that's one thing you can do is to have a meeting and send out the agenda to say, "Hey guys, I think we should talk about our meeting practices and like think as a group what's working and what's not and what do we want our meetings to be like." So check out our blog articles, we talk about all of this. We will probably do a webinar or a workshop on this topic, so if you want to be informed of that, you should subscribe to our blog so you'll get all the notifications for our upcoming events.
You talked about meeting length, every meeting shouldn't be 30 minutes. I find my default meeting length tends to be an hour, which is usually way longer than I need to actually accomplish what needs to happen? What is the ideal time for a meeting? What should people strive for?
There's not exactly an ideal time for a meeting. It's really about what do you need to get done in the meeting. When I say don't just do for 30 minutes, it's really about thinking how much time do people need to get in and get out of this meeting? When you're planning your agenda ... So you start with, what am I going to accomplish in this meeting? And then, how are we going to get there? What are the things we're going to do? Think about how much time you need for each of those, and the more thought and detail you put into it, the more accurate your meeting planning will be and the more you'll know how much time you'll need.
For example, if you want to have some reflections on the pre-reading. You sent out this four page report and you want to have a couple of minutes at the beginning of the meeting for people to ask questions. If you think, all right, there's going to be eight people in this room, and if each person talks for approximately one minute, that's eight minutes. Now you're starting to think about how much time you're going to need. Now, if you were initially not really thinking that way, you might put that and 17 other things into your agenda, and then suddenly realize, "We're going to have 30 seconds for each of these items, we're not actually going to have time."
In a 30 minute meeting with five people, assuming your first five minutes are getting settled, your last five minutes are doing that wrap up we talked about, you really only have 20 minutes in the middle. For five people, that means each person's going to talk for four minutes. That's not that much time, so be really careful about what you're trying to get accomplished in that meeting and plan it out. It's okay to have a 45 minute meeting or a 50 minute meeting or a 20 minute meeting. They don't have to be 30 minutes or an hour. You want to make it according to what you need to get done.
Don't accept the defaults.
Because the defaults are always going to take up more of your time than you probably need. I want to know your thoughts on the idea of laptops in meetings, which is a bit of a problem for PC Mag-ers because we have a hard time putting down our laptops and moving away from our keyboards. At the same time, you want to have access to data, you want to have access to information, you want to be able to take notes. So what's your take on laptops on the table in meetings?
My feeling is if your meeting is a good meeting, people who are on their laptops will be doing things relevant to the meeting and not checking email or Facebook or anything else. If your meeting is not worth their time, that's why they're messing around with their laptop. I have no position on laptops good or bad. If you find that people are bringing their laptops and they're not actually participating in the meeting, that's when you have a problem. But if you make your meetings good and they're the right people talking about the right stuff, they shouldn't be doing those things.
This is another reason why having that Alexa would be really helpful in the office because now you don't have to have your laptops to look up information. You can say, "Alexa, what were our Twitter engagement last month?" or, "What were expenses on a, b, and c last month?" and Alexa will mine the data and tell you, and you don't need someone on their laptop digging around for it.
That's really ... I think it's a super exciting space. To be the onboard brain for the company and just be able to answer those simple questions that you can pull out of a spreadsheet, but you'll have that voice-driven interface so that you can all hear it at the same time. Is that a space you think you want to go to with Meeteor, or are you going to just partner up with some of those companies?
I would love to, but it's going to be through a partnership. We're not building that kind of capability, but what we are doing is building the data set that's not around spreadsheets and things like that, but really around the knowledge components, decisions that are being made, learnings that are being shared, tasks that are happening, those kinds of things. I would love to partner with a company who wants to bring that kind of audio and algorithmic stuff into the meeting space.
All right. Maybe some of our listener. We've got another question from the audience.
Audience: Do you think you'll ever use VR or 360 cameras with your platform?
Oh. That would be super cool. I'm very excited by where that's going. I actually think it would be super cool to have an avatar of myself that could then be in a virtual meeting room with all my colleagues and would see my facial expressions and know my hand movements. I'm not sure how that would play out into our platform, if it's something that we would eventually integrate with, but I think it's a great movement for where video conferencing is going. Much better than just the flat screens since most of us have little tiny screens with lots of little, tiny boxes. I'm really super excited by the idea of VR.
And the idea of also being able to see, being able to focus in different places in the room. You don't always need to see everybody at the same time, just follow who's speaking, or focus in on individual people while they have the floor.
Absolutely. We try to do that now, but what ends up happening is somebody calls in on their cellphone, but then they have their computer and the things aren't linked, so they're talking, but you see the blank screen instead of their face. All that stuff will eventually go away and it will be much, much better.
So personal productivity tips. Do you have anything that you personally do that helps you get a lot more done during the day? Because I suspect that you probably have more than one.
I have a lot. Up front, I'm a huge GTD fan, I love David Allen, he's one of my heroes. The one thing that I think really changed my life when I started implementing was his two-minute rule. When you're going through your task list or you're going through your emails, if something's going to take you two minutes or less to do it, just do it then because it's going to take you longer to put it into your to-do list or come back to it later, and the amount of time that you save and the amount of things you get done is just awesome. My inbox went way down, I feel so good about checking a bunch of things off my list at once because it's just like, "Oh, I can do that, oh, I can do that," and just get it done.
You've obviously made great progress in making meetings better. One of the things ... When I tried to run that two minute drill, I wind up sending out a lot of emails, and I swear they come back faster than I send them and I wind up getting more email coming back in. When will email get fixed? And when will we be able to manage this particular beast?
I'm not sure that I have an answer for that one. I mean Slack has made a huge step forward in reducing the amount of email. Many teams, including mine, use Slack internally, and so our internal email has gone way down, but still with clients and customers we're working on external email. I'm not 100% sure what's going to happen with email. Maybe someday we'll just ... It'll disappear and we'll have little chips in our brains and we'll communicate telepathically and email will be gone, but until then keeping your inbox low makes a huge difference in how you feel about your productivity.
Let's get to the closing questions, I ask this to pretty much everybody. Looking forward into the future, what technological trends concern you the most? What worries you the most?
I have two little kids, and I'm not 100% sure this is a trend, but it's something I think about a lot, which is around privacy and your online self and life. Especially as a parent I try not to put so much stuff online about my kids, but I really have no idea what's going to happen in the future, and what am I setting them up for in a good or bad way because of the content that I'm putting online about myself that is somehow going to then affect them. The history of my parents is known to our family and friends, but to very few other people, but my kids, when they grow up, everything about me is online, and stuff I'm putting about them as little kids is going to be online. I just don't know where that's heading and that's very scary.
Yeah. I think the idea of there's what you share, and then there's the secondary idea that it never goes anywhere. That it's always there and that there will always be pictures throughout your entire life. Restaurants you've eaten at, birthday parties you attended, the whole map of your life will be there and searchable in one way or another.
It's really hard to contain.
Yes. Yeah. And who has access to that information? It feels like it's constantly changing and evolving, and what companies can do with that information. Are they going to target my kids for certain things the way they target me for certain stuff? I just don't know and that is ... That's scary stuff. I feel like we have a big challenge to overcome as a country in thinking about the online security and safety and privacy.
And globally too.
You'd think there would be some kind of legal protections, but this is a global issue, and it sort of transcends borders.
If that's the downside, what is the upside? What are you most excited and hopeful about in terms of technological trends?
I don't know. That's a good question too. I'm really excited, just in general, about access to information. It's a little disappointing right now the way that we've become bubble-ized. We've all become in bubbles because of the way algorithms feed us information, but I think that there are companies who are starting to think about how do we stop that perpetual cycle, and the fact that we have access to information that we never had before is very exciting to me. The amount of good content that's being produced by people all over the world that I can now see and share and engage with is very, very exciting.
Yeah. The business model of media is a little broken, and possible not sustainable. At the same time, as a consumer it's never been a better time to be alive. There's so much available and so much diversity, you just have to go out and find it a little bit because if you don't reach out for it, you're going to wind up being fed a Facebook feed that's based on whatever you like.
Exactly. I think about that with my kids too, that at some point they'll be able to go online and find a course about anything they want to take, and we won't be limited by what our school's teaching them, what our neighborhood offers, or what time courses or classes are at. They'll just be able to go on and find people who have similar interests who want to learn the same thing, and the world's just open to them in a way that wasn't to me when I was a kid.
It almost makes up for the fact that we don't have any privacy anymore.
Is there one particular service or app or gadget that you use every day that just makes you feel wonder and makes you feel like you're living in the future?
Sort of. I wear this ring, I have a couple of them actually. It's by Ringly and it connects to my phone, and I have it set so that if my kids' school or my husband or babysitter calls or texts me, it will flash and buzz. It's a little bit weird, but I don't like having my phone on me all the time. In meetings it's really distracting if it's just buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. I want to know if the really important people are trying to get a hold of me. This is my first piece of wearable tech.
This is the first time I've ever seen somebody wearing that in the wild.
Yeah, we have tested them in the Lab, but it is I haven't seen them in real life. You're actually wearing that now just because it provides utility for your life.
I love it. I wear it every single day. I have a couple different colors so I can mix it up, and people who know me are like "Oh, she's wearing a Ringly again" because I wear it all the time because I don't worry about missing a phone call. I feel like I have some freedom from my phone, and they're beautiful. They're a lovely piece of jewelry. I actually wanted to invent this way a long time ago, but I had no idea how to do it. I was just out of college and the first iPhone had come out and I was like, "Oh, I wish there was a way I could know my phone was ringing when it's in my purse," and I was really glad when Ringly came about.
It's great because it's a filter. It serves as a filter so you don't have to pick up the phone every time, you don't have to look at it every time, but you've got that selective ... You can set your filter and only care about what's important to you, and that's pretty valuable.
Exactly. And for me it's just my kids pretty much. But their app allows you to do whatever, there's tons of integrations. For you, if it's your calendar or if it's Twitter or something else, you can set it for that, and you now just get that freedom. You can know about what's important and you don't have to worry about everything else.
See, I wish that was integrated into Fitbit. You can get notifications, but it would be great on a wearable so that you could wear it on your watch and you'd get the same type of filter, but not every text message you get, only the ones that you really care about.
That's why I haven't got an Apple watch or any of those kinds of fancy watches yet because I'm like I actually don't want that kind of information so close to me all the time. I need to have some space from it.
It's great to ... How can people find out more about you, more about Meeteor, and keep up-to-date with the product?
Yeah. For me, go to mamieks.com, M-A-M-I-E-K-S, as in Sam, dot com. You can follow me on Twitter @mamieks. For Meeteor, go to meeteor.com, M-E-E-T-E-O-R, dot com. Follow us on Twitter @meeteorhq. Both me and Meeteor are also on Facebook and LinkedIn and lots of other social platforms, so check us out.
Awesome. Mamie, thanks so much for coming by. I really appreciate it.
Thank you. This was so much fun.
Absolutely. That is Fast Forward for today. I want to thank you for joining us, let you know you can find us on iTunes, you can find us on Google Play, you can find us in all of the places that podcasts are. You can also find us on pcmag.com of course. Leave us a comment, let us know how we did. We'll be back next week with a brand new interview. Thank so much for joining us, I'll see you in the future.
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