Ryan Blair has ditched his morning coffee meetings in favour of something a lot more invigorating.
The CEO and cofounder of healthy lifestyle company ViSalusserial and author of “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain” takes many of his morning meetings out for a hike, telling Business Insider that this not only builds trust, but it also helps encourage creativity, takes people out of their comfort zone, and is an effective way to build relationships.
Usually between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. when he’s not travelling, Blair can be found hiking the trails of Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not listening to an audio book or music, he’s most often engaging in intellectual dialogue.
“I can have a meeting and review something or touch on a project anytime in the office,” he says. “On my hikes, I tend to select people I want to do a deep dive with, whether it’s a recruit, an employee I don’t get to see that often, or a future employee, an investor, or another entrepreneur I find inspiring.”
Most of the time when Blair wants to hike with someone he’ll invite them to meet at his house and bring their hiking shoes. If he doesn’t know the person well, he’ll ask them to meet him at the top of a hill, since they might not be in the same shape.
“Nobody has said ‘no’ directly, but I’m sure some have said no by implication. I certainly have people who’ve said ‘yes’ to the hike and wished they’d said no,” Blair says.
The entrepreneur was inspired in part by Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography, in which Blair read that Jobs preferred to take long walks to have serious conversations.
Like walking, Blair says hiking better facilitates engaged meetings. “The very nature of hiking, because of the difficulty of it, reduces the noise in your head,” he explains. “There are only two things you can focus on: the conversation you’re having or the obstacle in front of you.”
“It’s also a bonding experience because you’ve endured something together, and at the end of it you walk away with something. It’s not just another meeting; it’s a memory.”
Blair’s hiking approach to better meetings and productivity isn’t unfounded.
Numerous studies have found exercise to be one of the most important habits you can develop to transform your life. Working out can make you healthier, happier, and better able to sleep; it can boost your memory, concentration, and mental sharpness; and you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it to reap the benefits.
For those interested in implementing their own hiking meetings, Blair offers a few simple tips: Find a place to hike, hike it a couple times before inviting your prospective target, invite your target, and repeat.
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