A1

Is there anything more promising than opening a fresh new spreadsheet? Oh, the possibilities! In every spreadsheet, the top left cell, A1, holds all of the promise. It’s the beginning point of every model, and it’s what you do with A1 that counts. You’ve got to be a little bit thoughtful about what goes in that spot, or you’ll end up redoing the model later.

Oh, A1! It all starts here!

Recently, I started thinking about how I begin each week. What’s in the A1 spot? What activity or meeting or conversation kicks off the week and sets the tone for what’s ahead? Do I just barrel into email and the week’s to-do list, or am I taking a moment to frame up and prioritize the week?

At Flywheel, I learned the power of the A1 spot. We started our weeks with a leadership meeting at 8 am on Monday mornings. To be honest, it was pretty rough. We lamented the early start, often relying on our spouses to handle school and daycare drop-offs on Mondays, and usually arrived under-caffeinated and under-prepared to report out on the plans for the week ahead. But we didn’t miss it — we were there religiously, and we all came to rely on that meeting as the compass point for the week. We knew what everyone was focused on, where to celebrate, where to give space, where to have grace, and who on our teams might need some extra help. In some ways, it felt oddly list-read-y — one could argue that the whole meeting could be accomplished in an email. Except that the ritual of spending the first moment of the week together mattered. It said “okay, leaders. We’re the first ones here on Monday morning and we’re in this together. Let’s build something amazing this week.” It was an act of alignment more than anything, and when it was no longer in the A1 spot of my week, I missed it without knowing it was that weekly alignment and focus that I was missing.

Last month, I asked a mentor of mine for a standing weekly meeting. He said “well, I have Mondays at 7 am.” A1! And so we resolved to meet weekly on Mondays at 7, and trade off on selecting the topic, focusing on matters that feel prevalent and important to our work this week. The topic was his choice for the first meeting, and he picked: “Wes Anderson, Organizational Cadence, and Project Management.” The conversation moved from Christmas plans to The French Dispatch to product launches and MVPs. And it set our weeks into motion, each of us thinking about the cadence that leads to success in an organization, all before 8 am on Monday morning.

To build the next right thing, we must first start well. Pour the coffee, warm up the car. It’s 7 am on Monday, and it’s time for A1.

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karenborchert

karenborchert

Founder and CEO of Alpaca. Goals Nerd, Spreadsheet Enthusiast, and Runner.