Helping front office teams grow better

How to see things - #351

A few months ago, my wife ordered several things from Target for the kids. Since they didn't fit, she went to initiate a return. Instead of asking for the items back, Target just refunded our money and told us to keep them. As a practicer of frugality, this free stuff caught my attention. Why is it the case that for Target it was more profitable to give us the stuff for free?

In other words, I took note. It was a mental note and the thought about why that happened bounced around in my head off and on for the next little while. Activated to notice, we saw Amazon and other retailers did the same thing. But then, sometimes, they wouldn't and you had to take your Amazon returns to Whole Foods or repackage and ship them back. A few months later, in my stack of good stuff to read, I found a New Yorker article about what happens to all of the stuff we return. (It was fascinating and is linked below.) What I had taken note of, I was now able to learn about.

In this week's email, we're going back to two original themes: interesting, well written articles and a little bit of practical wisdom related to marketing.

There's a really excellent essay about the practice of taking notes by professor, musician, and critic Ted Gioia. The thought about note taking, as excerpted below, is that taking notes and jotting down reflections on your experiences isn't just a memory tactic, it actually changes the primary experience. A pattern of proactive, constant reflection changes the way that you observe things. As fascinating as it is to think about a note's usefulness over decades, the idea of note taking setting your mind akimbo towards the world is paradigmatic. I recommend the essay. After reading it, of course I began to fill my notebooks a bit more assiduously.

The last piece this week is by my old friend Trevor Bragdon. It's about the practice of persuasion. I don't know that I've ever achieved a one page meeting-win, but I certainly know that having and using frameworks helps you achieve a higher level of performance. Disciplined thinking and communicating makes you sharper.

As you head into your weekend, I hope you notice things, ask why, and take some good notes. And when you do, send 'em my way. Enjoy the reading!


What Happens to All the Stuff We Return?

Online merchants changed the way we shop—and made "reverse logistics" into a booming new industry.

shipping boxes into the void


How I Take Notes

The discipline of taking notes can evolve into taking notice—which is a much higher level activity.

Ted Gioia's notes in a book


Persuade with One Page

The person with a piece of paper usually wins. Twenty years of experience have convinced me: when you arrive at a meeting with a persuasive one-pager, you frame the conversation for the decision-makers—and, usually, you win.

Trevor Bragdon's one-page persuader