Can A $2-Tool Make You A Millionaire?

A few years ago Mark Zuckerberg spoke to a large auditorium of young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

The already successful founder of Facebook shared his lessons learned with people starting a business who wanted to start a successful company as well. 

According to this story by Ben Casnocha, there were two people in the auditorium who stood out: John Doerr and Ron Conway. If you never heard of them, they are both extremely successful investors in Silicon Valley.

It was not that they were much older than the rest of the audience but they were the only people in the room taking notes.

He concludes: 

Isn't it funny, that arguably the two most successful people in the room after Zuckerberg were also the only two people taking notes?

Ben Casnocha

a $2 discipline You Need to use daily

Recently I came across a story on the FastLane Forum, where one of the most successful members  raised the question if a $2-tool can make you a millionaire? 

He mentioned a story that 20 years ago, one of his mentors gave him a $2 discipline he still uses daily.

Even though this was before there were smartphones this discipline survived technology changes, strategy changes, and location changes.

The Magic Tool? A legal pad

His mentor kept one. (According to this story his mentor lived in the 2 block radius of Beverly Hills that every Californian is aware of, but most can't afford)

Million Dollar Advise:

There are two critical tasks for the legal pad

Task #1

When he meets with someone, he has his legal pad handy. He takes notes. When I was in pre-law, they taught me to take notes with a legal pad.

  • Split the page by drawing a line down the first 1/3 of the page.
  • Use the right 2/3 of the page to take notes (on whom ever is speaking) and use the left 1/3 column you made to write your questions so you can address them when the speaker is finished speaking.
  • Even if you don't want the notes for later (you might...) the discipline of taking notes helps you concentrate on the speaker, and/or helps you appear to the speaker as if you are concentrating on the speaker

Task #2

Every day, he uses a fresh sheet of paper as the "to do" list for that day

We all have many things thrown at us throughout the day... put them on the "to do" list

  • Put your milestone goals on the list
  • Put your "sh*t I have to do today" things on the list
  • Cross things off the list that you get done
  • Carry over things to the next day's clean sheet that have to stay on the list.

If You Aren't Taking Notes, You Aren't Learning

There's an old rule of thumb that if you have something really important you need done, ask for help from the busiest person you know. 

You can modify this rule a bit which leads to this conclusion:

If you want to identify the most senior, knowledgeable people in an audience, look for the people who are taking notes and asking questions.

The Best Money You'll Spend on Ads? Use Pen &Paper

Just a few days ago I found this email in my inbox from Justin Brooks...

I was sitting in the crowd at a super high level paid traffic seminar.  The speaker starts to say “The secret to how we’re profitable on $4 million dollars spent is simple pen and paper.”  He explains that he takes notes about what he’s tried and what didn’t work. I thought I was the only one who did this. So I asked some of my buddies who I know spend millions on paid ads, they all said they do this too.  It makes sense, any one serious about their craft is taking time to reflect, analyze, and track their results.  That’s just what a professional does that makes him or her a professional.

(Btw. this is an inbox that I only monitor every once in a while, because I don't have any newsletters enter my primary inbox) 

Use Pen & Paper When You Attended Meetings

If someone comes in for an interview, or for a business meeting, and they don't have something to write with and something to write on, he assumes (maybe correctly) that they are not organized.

f you come to a job interview, or a business meeting, and you don't have something to write with and something to write on, successful people assume that you are not organized.

This quick value judgment may or may not be fair, but perception is reality when people make judgments. . 

In my own experience this does not happen overnight.

Creating betting habits and becoming super productive takes time to develop. 

Why you should not use a phone to take notes 

Of course somebody you might think. I can use a phone app like Notepad on my iphone  or maybe apps like Wunderlist, Trello or Evernote. 

Another member of the fastlane community mentioned... 


If I were in a meeting and someone used their phone for taking notes, I would automatically assume that they were texting/browsing their email.


Why Writing Works Better Than Typing

An article on LifeHacker mentions even more scientific basis for the superiority of physically taking notes because it improves your cognitive functions.

For example one researcher named Dr. Virginia Berniger, who studies the relationship of writing down things to learning, found that children write more, faster, and more complete sentences when they used a pen rather than a keyboard which was also men, which comes to the same conclusion as this author from the Wall Street Journal who noted that adults learn new symbols and graphic shapes better when they created them using a pen and paper instead of typing them on a keyboard. 

Always Capture Your Ideas

It's probably a great idea to capture ideas whether you use a smartphone or write them down on a note pad.

In my experience phone apps are great, if you want to keep track of new habits and calendar reminders. 

However, if you need to keep track of  a lot of tasks every day, with some description about each one, it's probably not that productive. 

A notebook gives you the flexibility to organize stuff the way you exactly like it

Other people prefer formatted planners like the Phoenix Journal

The best advise in the forum probably came from another successful entrepreneur.

He mentioned that he uses writes all notes and to-dos on a yellow legal pad on a clipboard on my desk.

Every morning he looks at the written notes and put the todos into wunderlist.

This way his to-do's are re-written and clear, and he can move through them in digital form.

All the notes from his notepad typically end up in digital form or shredded.

Writing them down first feels much more intuitive for a lot of people and comes with the additional cognitive health benefits.

As this entrepreneur mentioned 

The Legal pad is always the point of entry and being on a clipboard and yellow, its always the most noticeable thing on my desk and its mobile.


  1. Capture Your Ideas With Pen & Paper
  2. Plan Your Day Using Your Preferred Method
  3. If necessary transfer your notes into an app

Help Others To Find Focus

Stop Wasting Time Online & Get Things Done

"I turn it on whenever I need to focus.  Really liking it."
Brett McKay from the

Martin Boeddeker

Martin Boeddeker is the founder of, the One-Page Productivity Planner and the mind behind the FindFocus Distraction Blocker for Mac. He studied industrial engineering and management in Germany and worked for some of the biggest companies in the world. With FindFocus he wants to help people to get rid of what he calls DigitalADD so they focus on the things that truly matter in life.