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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

2 Tools From The Old School That Work

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

We live in an I-Phone Obsessed World. Facetime has been a game-changer for communication. My parents have the opportunity to see my kids, even though they are separated by 1,100+ miles.

Text messaging has become main-stream.

Electronic Calendars plot out our days.

Khan Academy provides break-through lessons educational videos to learn at your own pace.

These are all tools of the New School, and I’m all in. They blow the doors off whatever technology came before them.

A couple of OLD SCHOOL tools popped into my head this week while I was asking some team members about their Goals. Both are close to endangered species.

Tool #1: The Bic Multi-Color Pen

Tool #2: The Plain Old Flash Card

These are the tools of choice of my Dad, the most influential mentor in my life. Everyone has their “most influential,” and my father earns that spot. He’s brilliant, hysterical and can work the paint off the walls, but he requires a dedicated post to do his impact justice.

Back to the tools & why they matter?

Short Story: Way back in 1999, I was working for Sara Lee and making a sales call on a great regional grocery chain: Price Chopper in Schenectady NY. While walking to the appointment a guy named Gene grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to his office. I met Gene a few times at my dad’s office in NJ where he worked on my Dad’s merchandising team at another regional Grocery Chain, Pathmark. After catching up, Gene quickly told a colleague and I a story about his time on my Dad’s team:

“He was meticulous! He used to put 10,000 words on those flash cards, all in different colors. Amazing!” I thought it was an impressive memory and Gene told the story with such enthusiasm. It certainly made me proud to be his son and to see a guy recount a memory of my dad that is not exactly “vanilla.”

Of all things someone can remember, a Flash Card was at the top of the list?

Sometimes you need years of separation from a memory to understand its significance.

In the case of Gene and the Flash card, almost 15 years.

I rarely see flash cards these days. There is something extraordinarily simple about them.

  1. It is much smaller than 8.5″ X 11″ standard paper. Yet its still paper.

  2. It fits in your back pocket perfectly

How many times have you sat through Death by power point? 25 slides to say something that could be said in 140 characters. If it takes you 25 slides to say something that can be put on one flash card, you are over-complicating it. Complexity never helps execution.

The Flash card constrains your thinking into a small space. The Old School version of a tweet!

If the flash card gets too garbled, enter in tool #2, the multi-colored pen. Use a different color so your thoughts don’t blur. Few lines of black, few words of red, throw in some green.

“GOALS ON PAPER!” is an Old School Fundamental.

If your goals are important, carry them with you.

Flashcards are portable. My dad had them with him, in a mini planner at all times. Usually clipped by the multi-colored Bic. Old School at its finest.

Writing your goals down is a proven difference maker. So many don’t do it. They wander in a general direction, and may EVENTUALLY get there. Put them down on paper, you’ll be that much closer. And you’ll reach them quicker. Speed matters.

Want to blend in a New School approach to these Old School tools?
  • Fill up your flash card with your goals, multi-colors (Old School).

  • Take a picture of them on your I-phone. Post them to Facebook.

  • Now your social graph sees where you’re going. Nothing like a little peer pressure to up the ante, provide support and hold you accountable.

When you are in a rut, get your Goals on Paper.

Put them on a flash card. Use a few colors. Slip it in your coat pocket.

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