Do You Have a Black Book?

For the last 20 plus years I’ve carried a Black and Red notebook with me daily. Why? I make a point, at every meeting or interaction, of highlighting key listening points. I often mind map the comments, collecting them into a system of connected points. This helps me remember, recall, and really focus on the conversation in a robust and meaningful way. Rarely a day goes by without me referring to notes from one or more of these meetings.  I have hundred’s of archived notebooks.

Listening and journaling go hand in hand. If we’re going to live the Character Triangle it is important to capture the viewpoints of others and to specifically note commitments made (especially ours). So I highly recommend using a book to keep a record of our transcripts (an analogue version). If you are more digitally inclined the iPad is a great tool too. This may replace my Black and Red.

One final note: at the end of each day, write down how we “moved the ball down the field.” What progress, however small, did we accomplish? This simple but habitual journal entry will give us a sense of accomplishment. Also it is beneficial to write down one example of where we’ve applied the Character Triangle too. This way, cultural development and character development growth together.

At the end of reasonable milestones, we can review our progress. The little stuff ends up being momentum.

Do you have a black book? Start now. Get one.

with Character,


  1. Lorne says:

    Good to hear from u Alison…thanks

  2. alison says:

    I continue to keep one also and have drawers filled with my musings, lists of anecdotal reads, articles referenced, music, etc. Among my most faithfully practiced (and useful habits). So thanks for that.

  3. lorne says:

    by the way Tim …am in Europe and you would be so proud of what you started here …they have grown 50 % yoy and are now 40 % of the business …a completely new business model stared at the ” garbage can of destiny ” by you


  4. TIM says:

    Hi Lorne,

    I started journaling as you do the day I arrived in the Uk and continue it today. I find it very useful to see how your leadership tactics change but your underlying process runs true from book to book.

    Thanks for this tip and all the others.



Leave a Comment