Being a small business owner is something else. I’m having a weird week, culminating in a meeting that never should have happened.

Here’s the story. A company reached out to me because it thought I could offer some help with an organic marketing plan, which means free advice.

I’m in a weird spot. As a marketing generalist, I always take the call. I’m not looking to provide free advice, but when someone is referred to me and thinks highly of my skills, I’m always happy to help with guidance and connections. Plus I find that these informal meetings yield significant and profitable relationships down the road.

We had to postpone the call a few times. When we finally connected, the first thing one of the team members said to me was, “Remind me again why we’re meeting?”

And it was over in about 11 minutes.

I feel like this is a teachable moment for every young professional in America. If you don’t know why there’s a meeting on your calendar, investigate before the meeting. Use your words. Ask clarifying questions. Nobody likes good meetings, let alone pointless meetings. Show some empathy. Be respectful and don’t waste time.

Meetings are essential tools for communication and progress, but you owe it to your colleagues to be prepared. And you certainly owe your best to someone who is trying to do you a favor.

I took that meeting instead of doing a million other Laurie-related things. I feel like a chump. That won’t happen, again, which is too bad. I really like that brand, and they could use my help.

Nobody wins.