Walk With Me

SendShare+1Share on LinkedInStumbleUponTweet



“Sitting is the smoking of our generation.”
–Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review

Can you help me with an experiment?  I want to have more walking meetings.

I have two reasons for this goal. First, I think meetings where we talk while walking are more effective. Steve Jobs (and now Mark Zuckerberg) are famous for taking long walks to interview employees or discuss key strategic initiatives.  For some reason, moving stimulates more creativity and easier dialogue.  My best recent meetings with entrepreneurs have been on walks around the Pioneer Square area.

Second, sitting in meetings all day is killing us, slowly, incrementally but unquestionably. I am no expert on the activities of our biological ancestors, but I know for sure we were not evolved to alternate between sitting in meetings, sitting in front of the computer and sitting in front of the TV (which is unfortunate because I am among the best in the world at all three). In fact, as reported in the New York Times, a recent study published in the journal Circulation showed that every extra hour per day a person sat in front of the TV increased that person’s risk of dying by 11%.

Here are three important exceptions to my walking rule.

  1. If you are presenting a slide deck or showing a demo, that’s harder to do on the run. Let’s sit for that.
  2. If you are wearing high heels when you meet with me, I won’t ask you to walk. But if you are meeting with me and reading this, don’t wear heels. I have terrible fashion sense and always wanted to be taller, so heels are unnecessary.
  3. If it’s raining (or snowing), we’ll stay inside.

I know most of you out there spend far too much time sitting in meetings.  But it can be awkward to ask someone to go for a walk.  Get over it. Join me (and others) in this crusade.

If there is no good reason to be sitting in your next meeting, don’t be afraid to ask the person across the table from you to go for a walk. I bet he or she will love the idea.


  • http://www.marinamartin.com MarinaMartin

    I think you should make the people with high heels walk. It’s totally possible to walk many miles in well-fitting shoes :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.mcshea.1 David McShea

    Great initiative Greg. I’ve been doing this with colleagues and some clients for a few years. Had a great “meeting” with a board member a while back where we walked around Greenlake at 7:30 a.m. Forget about “grabbing coffee”, grab a walk!

  • Greg McConaughey

    Excellent approach to meetings. It also helps with avoiding email and telephone interruptions and keeping people from camping out in your office for extended periods.

  • http://robiganguly.com/blog Robi Ganguly

    As you know, I LOVE this idea. Super excited to see you evangelize this to more folks, I think it really does help have better conversations. Also makes it harder for people to steal a glance at their computer/tablet/phone :)

  • http://twitter.com/greggottesman Greg Gottesman

    Thanks to @tmporter, I wanted to add another exception to my walking rule: meetings with multiple people. It is hard to have a good walking meeting with more than one person.

  • Shalendra

    Walking works pretty well for me both for 1×1 meetings and independent thinking. I take long walks in downtown Seattle and sculpture park, and I’ve consistently found that it clears my head. Seattle has clean air so it’s beneficial for health reasons as well. If you are in an area where air isn’t clean and smoky, long walks may not be as fruitful.

  • http://twitter.com/donalddesantis Donald DeSantis

    One of the first things I noticed about Chris DeVore when I started working with him was his walking meetings. Whenever an entrepreneur came to pitch, he would suggest they go for a walk. People were always surprised – a little taken aback. It became a practice that rubbed off on me though. :)

  • http://josephsunga.com/ Joseph Sunga

    This is interesting. I just tried a walking meeting this morning and I found out how much unconscious note taking I do with a pad and paper to capture thoughts and todos. After the coffee I had to quickly jot down what I remembered before I forgot to send an email recap I usually send. That said, I thought the conversation was engaging, I’m going to try more of this. :)

  • Katie Otto

    Yes, walking meetings! Or, how about hiking (board) meetings?

  • http://startuplawblog.com/joewallin Joe Wallin

    Greg, this is a great idea. I have been doing this too. Really great way to have a meeting. In fact, I think walking helps fire the brain. Makes for better meetings, imo.

  • Bob

    I like walking to the bus or bike trail then getting on while talking about the experiences we all share could be much more like Paris rather than Kent. If we are having fun and getting something done at the same time this is called a perfect life.