Lessons in note-taking from 11-year-old Abraham

Richard Branson close up, he's looking away from the camera
Richard Branson Headshot Virgin Atlantic Tel Aviv
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 25 November 2019

I am often asked what the most important practical skills are if one wants to become a successful entrepreneur. The first one that comes to mind is note-taking. By really listening to people, and accurately writing down what they are saying, you are far more likely to remember it, and to take action based upon it.

Richard Branson sitting by the pool on Necker Island
Kevin Wolf

It doesn’t matter what form your note-taking takes. I prefer a trusty notebook, but laptops and phones can do the trick, and I’ve been known to write my notes on menus, nametags, and, of course, the back of my own hand. Writing notes down in pen gives the exercise a practical bent that makes the messages stick in my head more firmly.

However, it is becoming increasingly rare to see people handwriting notes. So it was a delight to come across 11-year-old Abraham recently. I was speaking at an event in Sydney, raising money for our non-profit foundation Virgin Unite, when one of my team spotted Abraham. He was sat in the crowd with his mum, wearing a striking pink blazer and taking diligent notes in his notebook.

We asked him and his mum, Renee, if they would like to have a chat after the event, and it was wonderful to meet them both. I asked Abraham what he was writing in his notebook, and he reeled off some of the details of my talk. He also said he is aiming to become Head Boy at his school – if his teachers are reading this, I’m sure he’d do a great job. 

Richard Branson looking at his notebook. He is stood next to a child who is looking up at him
Image from Virgin.com

He said he isn’t an entrepreneur yet – but he wants to be. I told him you’re never too young to start, and he let me add my own note in his notebook too.

Best of luck in everything you do, Abraham. Keep taking those notes, keep your ears open to new ideas, and with your wonderful mum helping you along the way I’m sure you’ll be a success in whatever you decide to do. And everyone else? Take a page out of Abraham’s book, and get taking notes.