Al Pittampalli – Architect of the Modern Meeting Standard

[quote style=”boxed”]I decide. It can be an incredibly painful process, and it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does…watch out.[/quote]

Al Pittampalli is founder of The Modern Meeting Company, a group that helps organizations transform meetings, make decisions, and coordinate complex teams. As an IT advisor at Ernst & Young LLP, Al witnessed the meeting problem firsthand at Fortune 500 companies all across the country. Now, Al is part of a new generation that brings fresh eyes to stuck business systems. Al is a speaker and blogger on making revolutionary change happen and is a graduate of the NYU Stern School of Business.

What are you working on right now?

I just launch a book called Read This Before Our Next Meeting. It’s being published by Seth Godin’s Domino Project. But it’s not just a book, it’s a revolution. We’re way past the point of trying to make meetings “better.” We have to destroy the traditional meeting system as we know it, and replace it with a new standard, I call it the Modern Meeting Standard.

What does your typical day look like?

I try to get out of bed early and then immediately start writing in a daze, before the critical voice inside my head has a chance to wake up and realize what I’m doing. After a couple hours of that I drink my blueberry, banana, & flax seed shake, go to the gym, come back and distract myself with old episodes of the Daily Show. Then I regain focus and work on marketing my ideas to the world. The last part is different every day.

3 trends that excite you?

1. A renewed focus on fixing our broken meeting system. Recently 37 signals, Merlin Manne, and some other notable thought leaders have taken this on.

2. The trend towards sustainable change in developing countries by promoting education and entrepreneurship, instead of just charitable donations.

3. Vampire movies. (Kidding. I hate them all with a passion)

How do you bring ideas to life?

I decide. It can be an incredibly painful process, and it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does…watch out.

What inspires you?

Great standup comedians. I’m not kidding. I can’t imagine a profession that requires you to put yourself on the line more often and more powerfully. The profession is ruthlessly competitive, you risk embarrassment and humiliation every night, and it’s all in service of one simple goal: to make people a laugh. When I see a great standup comedian, I can’t help but be in awe of them.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

In first grade, we learned about the tongue taste map. It was the idea that different regions of the tongue were responsible for different tastes (one area is for sweet, another area for bitter, etc.). We tested this out in class with a candy cane, but it didn’t work for me, I could taste sweet everywhere on my tongue. So I caused a fuss for a little bit, but after the teacher dismissed my rants, I gave up. Years later I found out that the tongue taste map is completely untrue! That day I learned that large numbers of people can be wrong, and they usually are.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

It’s a social media idea for a restaurant. It’s pretty simple, you have Ipads at every table, and you create short video clips of every dish and how it was prepared (food network style). That way people can watch little clips of the preparation as they decide what to order. And they can share via facebook and twitter to their friends at home. I blogged about this idea a year ago, I’m not sure if anyone has picked it up yet.

What do you read every day, and why?

I read over 100 blogs, but Seth’s blog is the only blog I read every single day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Trout and Ries. If you have an idea, it’s the spreading of the idea that makes all the difference. Right now everyone is caught up on the shiny stuff like Twitter and Foursquare, but they’re just tools. Marketing is what powers those tools and it’s essence hasn’t changed. This 30 year old book is the most important you’ll ever read.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

Freedom is an application that allows you to voluntary lock yourself from the internet. Priceless when I need to get work done. Sometimes the app can act a little buggy, but it’s still worth it.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

1. @iamdiddy – This guy works harder than any of us and he lets you know it in a fun, competitive, and inspiring way. “Let’s go people, fly with me! Let’s work!”

2. @tonyrobbins – He understands human psychology better than anyone on the planet. If you want some insights that will help you grow, Tony’s your man.

3. @BarackObama – The President is actually tweeting himself right now. That’s pretty amazing.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Tony Robbins.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. I think he was making a joke about Herman Cain.

What is one professional accomplishment that would blow you away if it happened this year?

I’d like for one Fortune 500 company to make the Modern Meeting Standard it’s official meeting standard.

Who would you like to have dinner with?

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the creators of LOST. They created a TV show for the ages. It entertained me for 6 years, and I’ll always be grateful. But I need answers!


Thanks to Citrix, our generous sponsor, the Kindle version of my new book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting is available FREE for download from Aug. 3rd – Aug. 9th.

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