Fear of missing out? posted on 07 May 2024

There are summits/meetings where only leads (for whatever definition of lead) are invited and where you may not be. These situations may trigger a lot of emotions: Fear that you’re missing something? Disheartened that your manager doesn’t consider your input? Angry that the company is less transparent?

These are fair emotions – any emotion is fair in the first place. This post is meant to shed a bit of light and provide more perspective that may help you better process these events. Just to be clear, if you meet someone who struggles with emotions, the first thing to do is to listen to them (don’t throw your thoughts like I’ll do in this post – I just can’t listen to people in a blog post😅).

  • There are tons of meetings you are not part of, the one you just learned about is just one of many. For example, even though I’m a fairly senior IC at Databricks, I’m not part of senior leadership meetings, engineer director meetings, execs meetings etc. – and there are many many more
  • Sometimes meetings are done in small groups to align on controversial topics before sharing it more broadly. Not being part of the initial group doesn’t necessarily mean your insight isn’t valued – it might be very well that otherwise there would be too many people (you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen). It could also be that the organizer wanted first to hear a specific side of a project (e.g. those who are negatively impacted by the proposal).
  • You can ask to be part of these meetings if you think you should have been there – meaning that you had a strong opinion on the topic. Being silent about a problematic situation doesn’t help, just be polite when raising the issue.
  • Not being invited to the meeting is likely a blessing in the first place – rather than thinking someone thought you were not useful for the meeting, you should assume that the organizer thought the meeting wasn’t worth your time
  • Leadership summits aren’t based on levels only – while levels are used to bootstrap the attendees, my experience is that invites are sent based on whether people would benefit from such events (e.g. do you work with a lot of people that you need to meet in person, are you a stakeholder of a controversial but company wide effort etc.?

Last but not least, peeking at calendars is not a healthy thing – you’ll see events without context and will likely mis-interpret them.

Did you ever feel the fear of missing out? Any tip on how to deal with this feeling?

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