Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s your favorite tool for taking notes at important meetings?

1. Evernote


    I have Evernote open on my mobile constantly to take notes at meetings. It allows me to travel light without having to bring the computer and syncs along. I announce to the other party that I am taking notes so they still know that I am paying attention and not texting or answering emails.

    Dave Nevogt,

    2. Fleksy


    John Hall

      With Fleksy, I don’t have to look at the keyboard while I type. I can keep eye contact with the people in the meeting and take notes at the same time.

      John Hall, Influence & Co.


      3. A Moleskine Notebook

      Patrick Vlaskovits

        The Moleskine notebook has the perfect form factor. It slips into my pocket and looks great. It’s unbeatable.

        Patrick Vlaskovits, The Lean Entrepreneur
        4. A Classic Notepad


        Andy Karuza

          I still love the traditional way of jotting down quick notes or even drawing necessary diagrams at the same time to help communicate the message from the meeting. If I want to go digital, I just snap a photo of the notes with my phone and email it to myself.

          Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

          5. Basecamp

          Patrick Conley

            We have people on our team who take amazing notes during our calls, especially when talking to clients. I’ve found that taking notes distracts me and pulls me out of the moment. We record all of our important calls and have team members taking great notes that we store withBasecamp so that we never lose important discussions.

            Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

            6. Evernote Moleskine


            Brennan White

              I find typing during meetings sends the wrong message no matter how polite you are in explaining your intentions. It removes eye contact and shows disinterest. To combat this, I use Evernote Moleskine, a notebook that digitizes your writing into searchable online text. Your colleagues feel you’re engaged, and you have a perfect set of notes.

              Brennan White, Watchtower

              7. iA Writer

              Chuck Reynolds

                During meetings or calls, I constantly rely on iA Writer. It supports markdown to quickly format content and, most importantly, autosaves constantly. I’ve never lost notes even when I don’t save them right away. It’s amazing. Other tools were too volatile, and I’ve lost notes during meetings because of crashes. IA Writer is superior, and I highly recommend it.

                Chuck Reynolds, Levers

                8. A Composition Book


                Saul Garlick

                  It’s from elementary school, but it works just as well. I put a wide-ruled composition book with the classic marble cover into a leather notebook jacket I picked up years ago in Manhattan. The cover keeps it professional while the inside is as strong as ever. I never lose a page and jot down everything that matters.

                  Saul Garlick, ThinkImpact

                  9. Pivotal Tracker


                    Any note worth taking should be in the form of an action item. I record action items in a project management tool such as Pivotal Tracker and assign it to someone right there and then. That way tasks and thoughts don’t fall through the cracks after the meeting is over.

                    Jared Brown, Hubstaff

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                    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                    Do you like making mistakes?

                    I certainly don’t.

                    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

                    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.


                    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

                    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

                    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
                    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
                    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
                    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

                    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

                    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

                    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

                    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.


                    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

                    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

                    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

                    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.


                    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

                    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

                    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

                    1. Point us to something we did not know.
                    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
                    3. Deepen our knowledge.
                    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
                    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
                    6. Inform us more about our values.
                    7. Teach us more about others.
                    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
                    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
                    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
                    11. Remind us of our humanity.
                    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
                    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
                    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
                    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
                    16. Invite us to better choices.
                    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
                    18. Can reveal a new insight.
                    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
                    20. Can serve as a warning.
                    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
                    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
                    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
                    24. Remind us how we are like others.
                    25. Make us more humble.
                    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
                    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
                    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
                    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
                    30. Expose our true feelings.
                    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
                    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
                    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
                    34. Show us when we are not listening.
                    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
                    36. Can create distance with someone else.
                    37. Slow us down when we need to.
                    38. Can hasten change.
                    39. Reveal our blind spots.
                    40. Are the invisible made visible.

                    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

                    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

                    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
                    • Have an experimental mindset.
                    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

                    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.


                    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

                    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

                    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

                    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

                    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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                    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via

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