May 28, 2014

Take Notes!

It is absolutely amazing to me that people who should know the simplest, most elementary things, just DON'T. It is as if a part of their brain is missing.

If you ask them about this thing they don't do, they will agree with you that they should, but for some reason, they just don't DO what they know very well what they should do.

For example: taking notes.

A couple of weeks ago I was one of 4 entrepreneurs invited to work with some students in a simulated "Shark Tank" event. My job was to listen to presentations of about 10 individuals/teams and give them feedback. 

Not one single student took notes! And these are students! I'm assuming that they take notes in their classes, right?  It should be a habit, right?

A few months ago I was one of a group of entrepreneurs who helped a team of two experienced business executives prepare their business plans for presentation to a group of investors.

When the big day came, neither of these executives took notes of the feedback!

What's up with that?
Do these people have eidetic memories, or hyperthymesia?
It is highly improbable, of course.

Imagine: you have worked many long hours on your ideas, and you finally get the very rare opportunity to share it with people who have great experience with this sort of thing, and they give you some very valuable feedback, and you don't even take notes?

Seriously, do you think you can remember everything you were told?

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”


The wikipedia article calls taking notes a form of self-discipline. I agree, and amplify that by saying that it is one of the better habits a business person can form.

But beyond that, it is a form of respect for the person to whom you are listening. 

When they see that you are diligently taking notes, they will be impressed with your seriousness of purpose, and want to help you even more. Taking notes is an indicator of your coachability. If you are coachable, you will get more of it. If not, you will be dropped for someone who is. Life is too short to waste with dullards.

Learning from your own experience may be Smart, but it is expensive and time consuming.
Learning from others' experience is Wise.

Take Notes!

Technology makes it easy. I recommend to my coaching clients to record our meetings on their smartphones, so they can pay full attention during our meetings, and then play the audio sometime later, when they can take notes from the recording. I recommend this, and it is just completely amazing to me how few actually do this. Is it laziness, or are these people just not highly motivated? 

Show me a man who takes notes and I will do extra work to help them.  

Show me a man who takes notes, and actually does something with them, and I will move heaven and earth to help them.