|||Naomi Monroe |||
The unexpected announcement about me moving to San Francisco for a few months to establish NotionX’s new branch office happened about a month ago. And now I’ve been in San Francisco for a little over a week.
Yup, I said yes because why the fuck should I pass up this opportunity just because I’m afraid to run into Mr. Laurent? And besides, I’ve managed to avoid him for my entire first week here. Every time he wants to come visit our temporary office space, I schedule a meeting away with a local startup or entrepreneur that keeps me from crossing paths with Mr. Laurent. And if his publicist does mention the 5x5 interview series, I’ve just been having either Diane and Eric — two of the staff members that came here with me — interview him instead.
It has been so far so good with this system to avoid him. Now, I just have to maintain it for three more weeks and two months.
With week one down, I’m now on my second Monday in this overpriced city and if I weren’t here on NotionX’s dime, I would be shit outta luck because how do people survive here? Even with whatever money we came into at NotionX, it’s still amazing to me how they think they can afford to expand to a city as expensive as San Francisco when we could just open an office in Austin for much, much cheaper.
Currently, myself, Diane, and Eric are staying in one of the hotels owned by the Laurent family for free and the temporary office space we’re using is actually a co-working space in which Mr. Laurent is a major investor. Again, questionable from a journalistic standpoint, but that is why I am trying my best to meet with other founders that we could report on to build our popularity and therefore make even more money of our own so NotionX can get to a point of not depending on the Laurents for anything.
When I enter our small working space, which is pretty much a room with a large table that has dividers to separate our ‘desks’, Diane and Eric are already there typing away on their computers. I set their $5.00 coffees that I picked up this morning in front of the pair as I greet them and settle into my own seat.
I check my calendar as I do every morning to plan out my day around meetings and I see one there that doesn’t have much information. Eric has been handling my schedule, so I ask him what’s going on.
“Hey Eric, I have a 9:30AM meeting on my calendar, but there’s no description beyond ‘planning’. Could you explain to me what that is? It runs right up against a 10:00AM meeting that I’ll need to prep for, so please tell me I won’t need the full 30 minutes.”
“Oh! That’s your meeting with Mr. Laurent. Didn’t you get the email from his publicist?”
Mr. Laurent’s publicist Alana is persistent as hell and has been frequently emailing or calling me about doing his interview, but I’ve instead deferred to my colleagues. She keeps making the argument that because I did the interview that went viral and I’m technically the head of NotionX’s San Francisco operations, that I should handle Mr. Laurent’s 5x5 interviews. I didn’t realize she managed to get him on my calendar this morning.
I scroll through my emails and realize the woman emailed me at 7:08PM Friday night! And of course it ended up buried under the emails I got over the weekend. It looks like she took my lack of response as acceptance.
“Shit,” I reply. “It’s supposed to start in 10 minutes. Are Mr. Laurent and his publicist even here?”
“Yeah!” Eric chimes. “I saw Mr. Laurent not long before you got here and he’s already up in the conference room.”
Maybe I could pretend I’m sick or say I have a prior, more important meeting… Ugh! But who would be more important to meet with than one of the most influential investors here? Not to mention the man who is the reason that NotionX really took off… Got it! I’ll just do what I’ve been doing all week and send Diane or Eric in my place.
“Wow! It looks like all of us have meetings this morning,” Diane says, foiling my plan before I can even put it in motion.
Of-fucking-course we do, I groan internally.
“Yeah, I managed to get on the calendar of a startup founder who’s working out of this building as well,” Eric nods. “And you’re meeting with that potential investor, right, Diane?”
“Yes I am!”
The three of us stand from our desks and after packing each of our bags to head to our respective meetings. “Okay, guys!” I give them my warmest, most convincing fake smile. “Good luck!”
We split up and I make my way to the conference room in our current building where I’m supposed to meet Mr. Laurent and Alana. My heart is drumming in my ears and my stomach is in knots. It feels like I might actually vomit before I reach the room, so I do my breathing exercises on the way and promise myself that I will avoid eye contact with him and hopefully make the meeting short. My focus will be on Alana and my own notes. I will sit reasonably far away from him and behave in a professional manner because this is a business meeting.
With two minutes to spare, I walk through the door and I am met with the man who I’ve been avoiding. He wears a casual fit as is normal in startup land, but something about him in jeans and a button up just looks a lot more chic and the fact that I am intimately aware with what’s going on under there doesn’t help. My eyes search the room for his publicist and she is nowhere to be found.
It is just myself and Mr. Laurent in this conference room.