and a pen. Take notes.
Having worked for over a decade in management consulting, and now having been running this startup marathon for over three years, I always am bewildered by people that show up to meetings completely empty-handed. Bring a notebook. Always. Perhaps the training I received in consulting was just that good. Perhaps it's training that everyone should follow.
An "Employer" perspective: I once worked with this bright engineer who would nod vigorously in meetings, actively and delightfully participate in product meetings, and then a few hours after the meeting, have no recollection of what the meeting was about. We suggested she bring a notebook and take notes during the meeting to help - she never did. We soon parted ways.
Here's an "Employee" perspective: One of my first memories working at a "Big 4" management consulting firm was sitting in a very large intimidating conference room with the CFO and my firm's Partner level "big wigs". I was an Associate sitting in the back with the other Associates all furiously writing notes. At one point during the meeting, the client pointed to one of our Partners and then to one of the Associates that had stopped typing. A few moments later, he (that Associate) was escorted out of the room because he was not "adding any value" just sitting there. I learned at that moment, never let your guard down in meetings and always strive to add value.
Simply put: Bring a notebook, and take notes = you will auto-magically become WAY more effective.
Always take notes in these 3 situations:
If you're not used to carrying around a pen/paper always, other ways of accomplishing the same effect are: 1) add calendar items toward the end of the day and take notes in there, 2) send yourself emails with the notes, 3) voice record the meeting (not recommended for many reasons.) If I'm at a party for instance, and a situation comes up where I need a quick note, I will send myself emails when I'm not with my notebook.
My favorite method now is to carry a large black artist's sketchbook filled with large sheets of blank paper. I write notes, I draw arrows and connect meetings and thoughts. I emphasize some notes with extra underlines, circles and asterisks. Always bring a notebook.
Not feeling so awesome these days. Started playing some Chopin Raindrop Prelude and got teary eyed from the music so decided to instead work on the blog post for the week. Too many things and nothing at all to talk about all at once.
I'm doing everything I can to avoid crying these days.
Music used to be my way of feeling and expressing my feelings in my childhood. This is a really beautiful piece.
It'sSomeone just asked me how it's going. Usually people, including me, respond with, "great!" ---> I didn't this time. Thought I'd share with you verbatim what I actually said and how I'm actually doing (and with continual appreciation to my dear husband Daedalus who's been my rock, so steady and unwavering in his support of this person that is me):
"My heart is heavy. I think I'm on the brink of tears at any given moment. I'm still hopeful (I don't know why). :)"
I posted this on Facebook earlier today. Yes, there's a smile-y face at the end of it. Both feelings at the same time, positive and negative, happiness and sadness, hope and despair, ... I'm feeling all scrambled eggs inside. It's been tough, especially this past week. My family is going through some very challenging times.
Well, it's the end of the end of the day, and out of nowhere, all these people, some close, some random, some far far away, and some acquaintances commented. I'm kind of in awe. Awe. ... or like, "awwww....."
So this is what love is, right? This is what being a community is about, right? Is this real? I feel like there's real hope for humanity. Conservative, liberal, green, blue, tall, old, young, city person, world traveler, small town, man, woman, ... we're all in this thing called life together.
I picked a really hard one to go after. Really hard. Every investor or advisor or whomever I meet with has told me so. I believe them. I'm 10 years in on this journey and we're still going. This is our story.
This is my first time telling this story - actually put it together from scratch the day before. And it was so refreshing to share it.
Thank you. Feedback welcome.
I wrote this post because often I find that we silly humans can get carried away with expectations around what's really important on "holidays". Whether you're single or coupled, the most important thing to remember is the value of the relationship with those most important in our lives. It's not about getting a gift of a fancy $800 shoes from your husband or a $500 Valentine's Day dinner at an expensive restaurant or romantic diamond jewelry. It's not. (Though, if that's what makes it real for you - go have fun and enjoy for sure.) For many others, let's remember to keep it real. It's all about the simple thoughtful gesture to the ones we love in our lives.
1. Embrace your inner cheese.
Seriously. Keep it simple. Simple. Get or make a sweet card for the one (or ones) you love. Who says Valentine's Day has to just be about significant others, and spouses? Send some love to your girlfriends, your guyfriends, your favorite siblings and teachers, bartender, concierge, coworker and/or mailman. :) (Ideally, buy/make/prepare the card in advance.) ---> And a simple <3 text is a great gesture, too. That's super easy to do, so go share the "<3" and text away to all those you love.
2. It's the thought (and hug) that counts.
There's really NO need to break the bank for Valentine's. Unless you REALLY want to go all out, THEN GO ALL OUT. Sweet crystal stud earrings, small delicate bracelet/necklace --- all nice. Just as nice as half a dozen beautiful delicious macaroons or a small box of 4 decadent chocolates. Or go eat at your favorite dessert place - get that big slice of white chocolate strawberry cake. Or hell, grab a bottle of wine, cuddle up with your fluffy dog, your babe (or BFF) and watch a movie. It's the planned thought and the time that counts, NOT THE DOLLARS. A really big big big warm snuggly hug is super amazing, too. :)
3. Have your plan ready.
About 1-3 days before, ideally, have your plan ready for Valentine's Day. Don't leave it to the day of or last minute because that's unnecessarily making it stressful to both you and the recipient(s). Whether it's for your girlfriend or wife or a bunch of BFF's, know what you're going to do. Send her/him/them all a loving text message or voicemail at the start of the day to tell them you're thinking about them. Have the card ready before Valentine's Day. Know whether you're going to cuddle someone with a glass of wine and watch an old movie, go out to get some delicious dessert, or go all out with dinner out on the town + roses + chocolates + and then some. (Stressing should not be part of the plan.)
Alrighty. Don't stress. Valentine's Day is simple - just follow the above 3 steps.