I write as much down as possible. I’ve carried a folded piece of paper and a pen in my back pocket ever since I was twelve and I can say with certainty that it’s changed my life. A neuroscientist friend of mine said it best, “take notes, your brain is fallible.” If you’re like me, your forgettery is way better than your memory. Our brains are amazing instruments capable of synthesizing tons of disparate bits of information. That magical parallel process sometimes spits out a new idea or fun project and I try to get it down on paper as fast as possible–or there’s a good chance that thought will never been seen again. And note that I’m not talking about taking notes on my smartphone, these are notes in dead tree format. I have two fundamental problems with taking notes on a phone. First, a physical note is a tangible reminder of a piece of information that needs to be dealt with, whereas notes in a phone are so easily lost. Second, there is a social stigma around using your phone when you’re in a meeting, even if you are taking notes. Having a notepad in front of you is even better and demonstrates your undivided attention.
For communication with employees and customers, the written word has been invaluable. Writing affords the luxury of organizing and editing your thoughts, a task that can be clunky with realtime conversation. It’s also a dense, persistent log of the interactions to date that can be passed to an associate or act as a reminder in the future. Early last year, written communication was a critical instrument I used to get our whole team aligned about our STEAM Carnival. After laying out a deck describing the solution and a year’s worth of milestones, an ostensibly crazy project was off and running!
—Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, is a lifelong engineer and entrepreneur. Brent plays at making technology fun. Particular passions include group games, sensors, interactive art, graffiti, S.T.E.A.M. and inspiring kids to be inventors. He is the son of legendary inventor Nolan Bushnell.