Don’t Forget Your Trusty Black Book

The week before a conference is like the week before a vacation. It can be a mad scramble to make sure that deadlines aren’t missed and things are covered for the time you are away.

Part of the scramble, though, is preparing for the conference itself. But I know I’ll be okay if I remember my trusty black book.

This black book isn’t an address book (although some contacts and business cards will surely find their way in). This black book is for the notes, thoughts and takeaways I can grab throughout the conference.

Greg Blake, one of the speakers at last year’s Annual Conference, believes that most of us will forget 78 percent of what we hear at conferences within 48 hours. He is probably right.

That is why my black book has a “Takeaway Page.”  This is a special section set aside for the bullet list of ideas, tasks and goals that I want to take back home and put into use. Over the years, I found this to be the single most helpful tool to take value out of a conference. With a Takeaway page, I have one place to look for my action steps once I get back to the office.

Now it’s accountability time. Before making a new Takeaway page, I need to see how I did on last year’s list:

  1. Add HFTP Connect and Prolinks to my browser home pages.  (Done, but I still need to check them out more.)
  2. This was a list of contacts I made in hopes of scheduling speakers at our chapter meetings this year.  (4 out of 5 ideas came to be.)
  3. Thank you note to XX.  (Done)
  4. Do a 20 year light bulb cost analysis. (I didn’t do this. From what I recall, increases in electricity tariffs made it hard to determine savings from just looking at bulb costs.)
  5. Shore up passwords back home, making sure all systems are regularly reset. (Done).
  6. Publish our PCI Policies (OK)
  7. Get back to Flex Budgeting (Isn’t that what we’re compelled to do these last few years anyway? Scenarios are a big part of our job now.)

Not a bad year.  I’m ready for the conference!

John Grigas is the controller at the Madison Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wis.

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About the Author: Eliza Selig


  1. Great tips, I usually end up with all the hotel note pads in my bag filled from page to page, this would make me a bit more organized. Everyone should know you can always get great ideas for your own chapter and your business, you just have to listen.

  2. Love it! How often do we leave a conference and have a bag full of handouts and notes that we never look at? Having one “Takeaway Page” is a great idea.

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