A brief digression from best practices of others for a moment. This past weekend we had a discussion after some media members were complaining about the lack of a clean wireless signal in a large stadium during a pregame press event. It followed complaints I heard from students on college campuses about the inability to use a laptop in class for select professors.
1- Paper and pen and pad still beats storing everything online. Maybe it’s a bit old school, but I have at least 10-15 legal pads and several notebooks stored away in a drawer with years of notes, lists, and phone numbers from meetings, encounters and random thoughts. I know where they are, they are easily labeled, and I can go through not just to find old info but also to jog the memory from a particular newsworthy event or meeting. This past week I actually found the crisis plan written up when the USTA had to move the date of Davis Cup post-9/11 and how we dealt with it. Over 15 years ago the notes still work. Time consuming yes, but always worthwhile. Now I’m not saying I’m writing a memoir…but there is some comfort in seeing notes in my own style and handwriting, vs. the banality of typing away.
2- The backup is needed, and the backup is in the digital space. My schedule, key notes and phone numbers reside online correct, in the cloud somewhere over New Jersey. However I’m not that much of a trusting soil, so when the uber virus hits and wipes out my records and phone numbers…I have the old backup as well. Both fit into a world where memory is short and notes are needed, especially for a sole proprietor.
3- Backup the backup. We are all very busy true. But saving those files on a flash drive once a month, or making sure you invest in a secure backup service, and storing the secure files in a safe place will save a lot of headaches. As I write this there is a slight crack in my laptop, now covered with electric tape, which I’m sure is the beginning of the end. Making sure all is saved somewhere will be a huge help for when the screen goes black.
4- Learn To Listen. Other than storytelling, the greatest tool lost today by distracted devices is the ability to listen. Writing your notes, with ink and everything, makes you a better listener.
Better listeners take better notes, better note takers tell better stories.
Now make no mistake, I thrive in the immediacy of the digital world. However it is still great to see writers or colleagues in a meeting with a small handheld notebook, a legal pad and even a voice recorder giving a story or a meeting his or her own style. Maybe it is still that way in our tablet generation, but relying just on technology is still not the greatest as a stand-alone option. We need personal touch, personal style in addition to personal opinions.