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You Thought You Didn’t Need A Professional Fixer, Just Wait Till You Read This

You Thought You Didn’t Need A Professional Fixer, Just Wait Till You Read This

Do you have a problem and don’t want anyone to know? Call a professional fixer.  For the average person, legal help would be the first resort. However, there are many ways to skin a fish. Fixers literally fix any kind of problem, a la Olivia Pope, of ABC’s hit show, Scandal.  They come in during moments of crisis and publicity faux pas.  It’s easy to think professional fixers are out of your reach, and that you have to fix your own mess. And you may be right—many people can’t afford the thousands it takes to hire one. That’s why you must seek out a “fixer” among your own.  Still not convinced you need one?

Here’s a breakdown of why you do.

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1. You lack street knowledge.

To some, the street literally means the sidewalk.  Across urban neighborhoods, there are savvy, street smart men and women who have made something of themselves without school.  They are starting companies, running them, or contributing to the arts or commerce in some kind of beneficial way. Study them. You never know where these relationships lead; you must keep your options open and your network wide.  Without certain street knowledge and ways to negotiate, you fall victim to games, cons, tricksters, and all kinds of confusion in everyday life.

2. Your professional network is made up of mostly co-workers or high school buddies.

After the age of 25, you need more.  Branch out into different social circles that reflect your grown-up interests in business, philanthropy or the arts.  You will meet people there who can introduce you to people you need to meet. An affluent professional network takes years to cultivate.  With proper care, you will find that this alone can change your entire life.

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3. You don’t know anyone who can vouch for your character if you are in trouble.

Everyone needs someone they can call on to write a decent letter of recommendation or sit in the witness stand. No one will second-guess them because they are not related to you, like your mother or Uncle Bobby.  Establish a network with successful types who have your back. A professional fixer can find this person on your behalf.

4. You don’t know anyone who can greenlight a project or decision.

Do you need to get your documents approved to move on with your life? Someone who can greenlight a project can make a difference between eating or not, waiting or not, is a lifesaver and game changer.  This is particularly important for those in government and entertainment sectors where red tape or a guy in a big office can stand between you and a dream.  Fixers can open doors.

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5. You don’t know anyone who can give you money, lots of it.

A fixer with money can hire a PR pro or even a brand management firm to help you, and they can also pay lawyers to work on your behalf, too.  This is essential when you are broke and have no other recourse.  The fixer will see it as an investment in you.  This means that you must be someone of promise or accomplishment.  If a professional fixer doesn’t have money, then they should have access.

6. You have too many friends, and not enough associates.

A professional fixer can be a long-term associate (not necessarily friend) who has the following things: money, access, connections to shadow places like the street, clandestine partners and resources, and some charm. Friends have too many questions.  Associates are best to turn to in a pickle.  You won’t disappoint them since they have no expectations.  They have little to lose because they haven’t invested their time in you, and yet, may be intrigued.  If you’re being blackmailed by someone you know, but need in your life, a friend may just ask you to call the cops.  Olivia Pope, would never do that.

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7. You went to the wrong school.

Most young fixers in-the-making are already in high places.  They are at the Ivy League college or exclusive prep school establishing relationships.  If you went to the local college, it’s not too late to get it right.  If you’re already fairly accomplished, schools like Harvard and Oxford have specialized, short term programs for professionals looking to enhance their skills.  Get in one of these, and grab as many business cards as possible.  You may need it one day. Fixers have to start somewhere.

A relationship with a professional fixer is transactional.  You only call them when you need them.  If you go with someone who is not quite “professional” make sure you have something to offer them in return—notoriety, secrecy, or an introduction.  Like the saying goes: nothing in life is ever free.

Featured photo credit: href= via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

What to Write Down

Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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1. Dates of Events

Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

2. Names of People

Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

3. Theories or Frameworks

Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

4. Definitions

Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

5. Arguments and Debates

Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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6. Images

Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

7. Other Stuff

Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

8. Your Own Questions

Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

1. Outlining

Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

2. Mind-Mapping

For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

Here’s the idea:

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

3. The Cornell System

The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

The Bottom Line

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

More Note-Taking Tips

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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