Picture taking 30 steps down the road. How far do you think you’d get?
If you guessed around 60-70 feet, congrats! You’re an excellent estimator.
Now, picture taking 30 exponential steps–meaning each step is twice as long as the previous. How far do you think you’d get now? A mile, maybe two?
If you were to actually take 30 exponential steps, you’d circle the planet 25 times.
If you guessed this one correctly, even bigger congrats; you’ve probably attended Singularity University.
Empowering Entrepreneurs with exponential theory
Noticing a lack of understanding of this “exponential thinking” in the worlds of business, government and NGOs, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil founded Singularity University in 2008. The engineer and the futurist knew that if professionals could spot exponential trends, they could accelerate not only the success of their organizations, but the development of solutions to global crises, as well.
Now, Singularity University “provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help [professionals] understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.”
With such lofty goals in mind, the Singularity team has little time to waste on busywork. Thankfully, the managing director of Singularity’s startup accelerator, Pascal Finette, has found a way to eliminate his.
As the head of Startup Lab, Pascal devotes a large portion of each week to supporting young entrepreneurs. He also meets regularly with partners, startups looking to join the program in the future and other business leaders around the world. “Literally the only way I can manage all of these meetings,” he says, “is Calendly.”
How Pascal separates time for meetings versus work
Pascal plans each week in Google Calendar, reserving blocks of time both for meetings and for uninterrupted periods of work. Since Calendly only shows invitees the times he’s chosen to be free, he no longer worries about breaking focus for a meeting while he’s in the middle of a project.
“Only showing the open slots I choose is so helpful,” he said, “because I don’t get meeting requests at times when I really need to get work done.”
When meetings do need to be scheduled, Pascal types in a quick keyboard shortcut that automatically writes a full email, including his Calendly link and an invitation to book a time. From there, an invitee can choose to reserve a 20-, 40- or 60-minute meeting in about three clicks, which is added to Pascal’s Google Calendar without any back-and-forth.
“I probably send out my Calendly link at least twice a day,” he said. “And if I wasn’t doing that, I’d absolutely need an assistant. It would kill me, trying to manage on my own which times are free and which need to be blocked out.”
Pascal has included several questions for invitees to fill out when booking a time: a reminder of what they’re meeting about, their phone number and Skype ID. This filters automatically into Google Calendar and appears in Sunrise, which he uses to view his schedule across all devices.
“Automating the process de-stresses me in a big way,” he said. “I save a lot of time and hassle.”
Freed from the chore of manually scheduling each meeting, Pascal has more uninterrupted time to focus on what matters: helping entrepreneurs build businesses that reduce global crises.
Saving sanity, the world, and $2,000 a month
Before Calendly, Pascal would direct people straight to his Google Calendar; while this allowed people to find a time that worked for them, it still required tedious effort–and valuable time wasted–on Pascal’s part.
“If I had two people reaching out at different times about meeting during the same slot, I might say yes to one after forgetting I’d already said yes to the other,” he said, “or I’d never get a confirmation from one person and wouldn’t know whether to hold the spot for them or not. It was a huge mess.”
Managing time zones was another huge hassle, as Pascal’s meetings often include at least one professional in another city or country. After our interview, for example, he was preparing to speak first with an entrepreneur in Portland, and then with several members of a socially- and environmentally-focused venture program in Mexico.
“Scheduling with the group in Mexico,” he said, “would have been nearly impossible without Calendly, given the time difference and potential language barriers between some of the meeting members.
“By letting others add themselves to my schedule, I’m saving $2,000 on a personal assistant. So I surely spend a lot less time worrying about meetings, and a lot more time making real progress.”
By automating his scheduling process with keyboard shortcuts, templated emails and Calendly, Pascal can devote his time to substantial change, moving the world closer each day to the end of hunger, disease and other major global issues.
What kind of impact could you make by automating your scheduling flow? What would you spend more time on each day?