Blog Post

Coffee break- don’t have teleconference meetings in coffee shops

Coffee_manSo I’m sitting in the comfy chair in Starbucks, happily working on my HP 2710p Tablet PC in slate mode. Just taking care of business as I often do, albeit under the care of decaf.  Silting at the big table about 4 feet from me are 5 executives who work for a large company I won’t name here, although it’s clear from the conversation which company they represent.  What they have probably forgotten but what is abundantly clear to me is even though they are sitting in the coffee shop they are in fact representing their company.  The loud exuberant conversation is easily followed by me and everyone else in the Starbucks so they do in fact represent their company.  They are talking about some pretty significant happenings in their company, happenings that I’ll bet the powers that be don’t want to share with the likes of me.  Especially since I am sitting here writing busily on my Tablet PC and while I wouldn’t do so I could be taking down everything I hear and putting it directly to the web.  Hell, truth be told I could be recording the entire conversation on my Tablet and they’d be no more the wiser.

To make matters worse they have a teleconference call with their boss using one of the women’s Treos in speakerphone mode for the call.  A 15 minute discussion about their dealings with Microsoft takes place and some interesting things are discussed, mostly by the manager on the other end of the call.  This is something that I personally would never consider doing, having a public teleconference in a setting like this.  I can’t believe that no one at this table expressed any misgivings about doing this and the boss on the phone didn’t ask where they were.  It had to be obvious from the background noise that they were in public so the discussion that ensued should never have taken place.  I know that Microsoft would be very ticked off if they knew this.  And no, I have no intention spilling what I heard even though it was in public.  I have no desire to get anyone fired for being stupid.  They are still here BTW, discussing the ramifications of the information shared with them on the call.  Sheesh.

24 Responses to “Coffee break- don’t have teleconference meetings in coffee shops”

  1. I visited with an executive while waiting for a flight. The gentleman presented himself as the soon to be CEO of a fairly large corp.
    Some of the stuff he told me about his corporation made me think he was just making stuff up for conversation.
    The next week, his picture was in USA Today annoucing his position ass the new CEO of said corp…

  2. I’ll preface the following with my stance as a bit of a devils advocate and firm believer in Occam’s razor that attempts to never underestimate the power of stupidity;

    Not knowing anything about the conversation – was the topic something that was intended to be over heard?

    Viral strategy can be very subtle and include those who don’t have a clue they are included.

  3. Hey, it could have been worse. They could have been driving. Personally, I may not have said anything directly to them or ratted them out on the web, but I would have at least pulled out my phone, pretended to dial a number and said “Hey Lenny…yeah, sell all my stock in (whatever company here)” in a somewhat loud voice. That would probably have sufficed. Bonus points to watch the blood drain from the face of at least one of them.

  4. I wish I could get people fired for messing up a good coffee shop sit down. I have to admit that capital punishment has came to mind a few times after a stress full day at work and someone decides to argue with their wife over their cell phone at my favorite coffee shop.

    I was thinking HP before I read the comments. I agree with Dave.

  5. I’m confused why they choose to do this in public rather than in their own boardroom or more private place. Even having a special room in a restaurant would be slightly better. That’s just unbelievable. I think not saying anything is not the right thing, though, regardless of the repercussions. But then, it’s your call.

    Now that it’s out in the open, I wonder if someone will be checking out the local Starbucks near you for a repeat.

  6. You should take out your camera/camera phone and take a photo of them (not surreptitiously), and if they ask you why, tell them you need it to accompany the blog article you’re currently posting about their conversation.

    Seriously, how are they going to learn if you don’t make it obvious to them one way or another that they are screwing up?

  7. Simply stupid. It’s ironic that I was just on the phone with a Microsoft corporate rep a few moments ago and we were also discussing some fairly sensitive matters and I can assure you, had I heard the telltale sound of a speakerphone (you always know), my first comment would be the same as always… “Who else am I speaking with?” and my comments would be immediately guarded.

    I don’t have an issue with speakerphones per se (loud speakers is another matter), but for myself, if I am using a speakerphone, I always announce who is with me (if anyone), I state that I am in fact on a speakerphone (in case they didn’t already know) and I never do it in a public venue.

    This stuff really isn’t all that difficult. I genuinely believe its inexcusable.

  8. Seriously. If you don’t want to blog about those five idiots, fine. People reading the name will probably abuse this information.

    However, you should print your blog entry and send it to HR or the CEO (or both) of the company in question. By not doing anything, you are effectively protecting them and helping a bad cause.

    Think about it.

  9. borax99 (Alain C.)

    If you don’t quietly bring this to someone’s attention at the company they work for, they will never correct their behavior. Stupidity tends to accrete, Lord knows what their next mistake will be !!!

  10. I fear what you’ve described is going to become very common in the future. As we’ve expanded the workplace AND as managers expect instant contact with employees due to today’s technology, we’ll see this trend continue. Scary to think that we’re never “off-duty” any more, just because we can be reached by cell or internet…unless we just say NO!

  11. I fear what you’ve described is going to become very common in the future. As we’ve expanded the workplace AND as managers expect instant contact with employees due to today’s technology, we’ll see this trend continue. Scary to think that we’re never “off-duty” any more, just because we can be reached by cell or internet…unless we just say NO!

  12. Wow, pretty scary.

    Were these young folks so jazzed on being able to “work” from a coffee shop (and look really cool and be able to brag to their friends) that they lost all sense?

    In the age of Facebook like startups, even people who work for regular companies seem to want to share in the “glamour” of those types of companies.

  13. Wow, that’s amazing. Yesterday when I got to my favorite coffee shop there was a man wandering around the shop while talking on his cell phone, and he continued for at least an hour and a half. I thought that was bad, but your experience takes the cake.

  14. Did you once say that HP had an office close to you James (sorry if it seems a bit creepy to remember things like that – it just came to me)?

    Anyway, forget about the privacy aspect. I’d be damn annoyed if I went into a coffee shop to relax and the table next to me was full of people on a conference call.

  15. >>>I have no desire to get anyone fired for being stupid.

    Why the hell not?! Those eejits are the kind who have been my bosses! I’d rat them out in frikkin minute! Hell, I would have videoed them and then emailed it to Microsoft!

    FAIL!