From Book Notes to Action Plan: Company of One by Paul Jarvis - Verbal to Visual - Doug Neill - sketchnotes

From Book Notes to Action Plan: Company of One by Paul Jarvis

About a month ago I finished reading, underlining, and marking up the margins of Paul Jarvis‘s book Company of One.

In this post I’d like to share how I’m following up on the ideas I came across there.

My focus today will be on the creation of a sketched action plan. I want to summarize (in a visual way) the follow-up action that I would like to take as a direct response to the new things I learned.

So, here’s a bit of what my book processing looked like.

Sketchnoted One-Pagers for Each Chapter

I began by creating one-page summaries of each chapter.

This is one of my favorite parts of the note-taking process. I get to revisit the most interesting ideas from the book and think about how I might make those ideas visual with a quick sketch or diagram.

Pulling out the most important ideas from each chapter, in sketchnote form.

After I had done that for each chapter, I then went through with two highlighters for one more stage of filtering. I used a yellow highlighter to circle the one or two most important ideas from each chapter, and a pink one for specific follow-up actions that I wanted to take.

Highlighting just one or two ideas from each chapter (yellow) and the specific follow-up actions I wanted to take (pink).

For a quick recap of the ideas that I chose to capture in those one-page summaries of each chapter, jump to 1:56 in the video above.

Brainstorming an Action Plan

With the most impactful ideas top of mind, as well as some specific follow-up actions that I’d already identified, I started brainstorming what my action plan might look like.

I used index cards to identify the specific actions, and then did a rough sketch on copy paper to see how they might all fit together.

Broadly speaking, the two subject areas that I found to be the most impactful were around consumer education and customer success.

Sketching Out the Plan

To make my plan as practical as possible, I started with the rough outline of how I conduct my work.

I break down work days into two three-hour sessions: 7:00am to 10:00am and 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Those are the chunks of time when I do deep, distraction-free work.

The rough outline of how I structure my work day.

I dedicate the first chunk to the making of videos like the one you’ll find at the top of this post. For the most part, that’s the only form of marketing that I do for my online courses on sketchnoting.

With those videos, I alternate between two styles: behind-the-scenes of sketchnoting projects (like this one) and sketchnoting how-to videos (that share specific tips).

With the second chunk of time, I focus on customer support (or better put, using a recurring theme from the book–customer success) and on long-term projects.

At any given time, I’m only working on one long-term project. I need that focus, otherwise I try to roll too many boulders up hill at once. With those long-term projects, I alternate between improving old products (like courses that I’ve already launched) and building new ones (like a new course coming in 2020!).

That, in broad strokes, is how I approach my work.

Next let me share where the ideas that I learned from Jarvis will fit into that picture.

Becoming Better Not Bigger

The first place where I see room for improvement is in the realm of consumer education.

Jarvis talks about how beneficial it can be, as company of one in particular, to educate potential customers both on the market surrounding your work, as well as the details of your particular product.

In my case, I think I could do a better job of sharing research related to learning in general and visual note-taking in particular. It seems like every month there’s a new article published that touts the benefits of doodling or sketchnoting. I’d like to start weaving the sketchnoting of those articles into the behind-the-scenes videos that I make.

My Company of One action plan: not bigger but better.

The other broad area that Jarvis explored in depth was customer success. That got me thinking about the specific things that I do to make sure that the folks who pick up an online course of mine actually achieve their goals.

Though I do already have feedback and support mechanisms in place with an automated email series that goes out to everyone that signs up for a course, there are some improvements that I can make to that series to send out the most helpful information at the right time and to seek out honest feedback.

As I mentioned in my latest annual review, one of the things I’m focusing on this year is improving the courses that I’ve already made. I’ve identified a pair of improvements that I’ll be making in the next few months: adding English subtitles to all video lessons (to make those lessons more accessible to non-native English speakers), and offering full transcripts of each lesson in PDF form (to make it easier to quickly review lessons you’ve already watched).

Another way that I’m hoping to facilitate customer success is through course-specific webinars. I experimented with that for the first time this past summer with webinars for teachers who have picked up Sketchnoting in the Classroom. We’ll be continuing that series with one webinar in October and another in December or January (so that we can troubleshoot issues that come up in the first half of the school year). In the future I plan to host webinars connected to the other courses that I offer as well.

Your Turn

Now that you’ve seen how I went about sketchnoting Company of One and creating an action plan to help me put into practice what I learned, I encourage you to go out and do something similar with the latest book that you read!

If you want some support creating helpful visuals of the ideas you’re reading about and a sketched plan of action, then check out our online courses, maybe starting with An Introduction to Visual Note-Taking:

Reconnect to making marks by hand as you learn to use text, layout, imagery, and color to engage your visual brain.

That course will walk you step-by-step through the process of developing all of the individual skills you need, then you’ll get to bring those skills together into your own sketchnoting process.

And if you, like me, are building a company of one, you might enjoy The Online Entrepreneur course bundle.

You can explore our full course library here.

Good luck with your next sketchnoting project!