I generally pass on coffee meetings. One of the biggest reasons is that I'm completely and totally burnt out on ideas.
Not coming up with or getting excited about them, because there are 10 different things I'd like to pursue right now. I have multiple notebooks and dozens of documents typed full of ideas. Screenplays, summaries of story ideas, app ideas, or a new website. Or even just a character name with no story attached. Or a name for a company I may start one day.
Too often I find people that want to meet for coffee without anything specific to talk about. Maybe they want to pick my brain or we share a common interest. Maybe it's even for business.
Every time I've had a meeting, or even a phone call, without a specific agenda, it's been a waste of time. Nothing gets accomplished. When it is business, it's usually just to kick the tires and to price shop. When I push for an agenda or a clearly defined topic of discussion, a large portion of the time I don't receive a reply.
I had someone recently ask for a meeting without even knowing where I was located and how long it might take me to meet them. After they agreed to a phone call, we had a five minute conversation in which they couldn't answer most of my questions. What was the meeting supposed to be for again?
The time investment is real, and especially as a freelancer, you have to protect your time at all costs. It's more valuable now than you ever imagined as a full-time employee. And as an introvert by nature, when I get involved with a project, I fully commit and put all my energy into it. That can be really draining when the other person just wants to chat.
Perhaps most importantly, I want to be a doer, not a thinker. When you imagine some of the great thinkers, visionaries, and artistic minds of the last century, you think of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, or Stanley Kubrick. Early in their careers before they honed their craft, what set them apart wasn't just intelligence or vision. It was that they took their ideas and created something. We equate great ideas to great success, but in reality it lies in the execution.
Talking about ideas makes us all excited and warm and fuzzy, but without acting on those ideas, they will never amount to more than a warm, fuzzy feeling. I would rather try and fail than only ever talk about trying.
So, if I say no to a meeting, please don't be offended. That is not my intent. My intent is to focus precisely on what interests me most. My intent is to invest 100% of my energy into what is real rather than what is theoretical. I want to do something.
Suggested reading: Sarah Peck – How To Be Unreasonable & Busy for the sake of busy? Or, are we just not saying “No” enough?