I Heart OneNote

May 28th, 2010

I have a confession. I’ve started using Microsoft OneNote. And I love it. L-O-V-E. I want to go on dates with it. I want to introduce it to my parents.

OneNote is currently a lifesaver (and potentially an ass-saver) for my most recent project, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is with the software company that created it.  [Full disclosure - check]

I also confess that I’d never considered using it before. But dang, if it isn’t sweet as pie. Basically, it’s a visual filing cabinet and notebook all in one. More convenient than saving emails as files and sticking them in the same My Documents folder with Word docs, spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, etc.

Want an example? Let’s say (theoretically) you’re working  on executive briefing materials. You could have a page for various other briefing materials, one for case studies, one for tech topic A, another for tech topic B, one for meeting notes, etc.

Supercool alert: you can export a meeting invite from Outlook to OneNote and it automatically sets up a page with all the invite info (including invitees, like the guy you think is named Paul…or Saul…) and space for taking notes, dropping in files, whatever. You can also save e-mails directly to OneNote, which show up all nice and neat and readable - then you can add whatever else you want to the page.

I LOVE IT.

Now, I’m not trying to hype a client’s product – I get paid to do that, and I write this blog for free. I just dig it, like I dig SKYPE, and Google Docs, and my iPhone.

Hold on…

Can I say that?

Is it allowed? Is it wise? Is it…kosher?

But if I can only talk up products from people who help pay my bills, then how authentic can I be? How credible?

But…could I actually get in trouble for writing this blog post? Am I incredibly naive to think that I won’t? If I did, would it be justified? Right? …Kosher?

See, the problem is, I really do heart OneNote. And I really want people who care about communications to know about it, ’cause it’s really freakin’ useful and cool. And I think a lot of Office 2010 is pretty freakin’ useful and cool.

But if I only write about those products, and pretend I don’t have an iPhone (because part of my job is being hip to trends), or keep all my blog/web/Twitter/etc. passwords in a Google docs spreadsheet (because I work on two laptops and it’s the easiest way for me to not lose my mind), then why would you believe that I am a OneNote evangelist by choice?

What drives social media if not ordinary citizens volunteering to be evangelists for products and services they love? Millions are being invested by companies like the one in Redmond to encourage/enable/empower people (approximately) like me  to write blog entries entitled, “I Heart OneNote.”

In fact, a friend  recently attended the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) “School of WOM” in Chicago. This is serious business, folks.

My conclusion:  I’m going to participate in social media honestly, which is the only way one really can participate in social media.

What do you think?

p.s. Try OneNote. It totally rocks.

Really Rad Writing Resource

May 5th, 2010

“Business communications” is a big topic. Some folks are focused on the macro level – being more strategic about communications to employees, stakeholders and business customers (have them call me).

But many smart people struggle to make their business communications spot-on at the micro level: business writing. Whether it’s (finally) mastering punctuation, writing a great presentation, or crafting concise e-mails to colleagues, otherwise successful professionals are being held back because of writing fundamentals.

And in an increasingly online world, where the written word reigns supreme, subpar writing skills ain’t gonna cut it.

I had lunch recently with my friend and colleague Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder of Syntax Training here in Seattle. She was telling me about her newest online class, Meeting Notes Made Easy, and I was reminded of something obvious that I’d briefly lost track of (I’m working with a lot of PR folks at the moment, all of whom know how to wield a perfect passive participle): writing well is not intuitive for everyone.

And it doesn’t become more intuitive over time. And it has nothing to do with intelligence. A very dear friend and client who is a brilliant and creative business leader sometimes struggles to express herself in writing.

Just try to deny that you’ve ever cringed, squinted, wrinkled your nose, sighed, scratched your head or downright cursed out loud at some convoluted communication written by a colleague. Now, try to deny that you’ve ever sat and thought, and sat and thought, and sat and thought about exactly how to convey an idea, a request, important information, etc.

Now release yourself from that state of denial! And what do you conclude?

Like most things in life, if you want to get better at something, you have to work at it. If you manage people who could increase their effectiveness by improving their writing (read: make your life easier while making their job more rewarding), have them work at it.

And get professional help. It’s out there, and it’s invaluable.

Writing instructors like Lynn, who are passionate about helping people be more effective and successful on the job, provide an incredibly important service for both companies and individuals. Hire one!

I happen to think Lynn is super rad – a talented and caring teacher who’s funny and down-to-earth – and I’m not alone. This intrepid business woman just celebrated the 10,000th subscriber to her e-mail newsletter, Better Writing at Work. I’m a faithful reader.

Go forth and improve your writing – and improve the writing of others. The business world will be a better place.

Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014

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ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Onboarding Citation
Sales Enablement Citation

Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

Best Custom Content Gold
Best in Learning Strategy and Governance Gold
Best Leadership Development Program Gold
Best Innovation in Learning Technology Silver
Best Leadership Sales Training Silver
Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management Bronze
Best Use of Games for Learning Bronze

Brandon Hall Technology Excellence

Best Advance in Social Learning Technology Gold

CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

Technology Innovation Gold, Division 1
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Business Impact Gold, Division 2
Business Impact Bronze, Division 2

 

Learning Organization Ranking Awards

ORGANIZATION / AWARD NOTES

American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
#2 (up from #37 in two years)

ELearning! Media Group

Learning! 100 #1 (first year on list)

Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

Training Magazine

 Training Top 125 #1, #2 (up from #41 in one year)
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