The First One to Write it Down Wins

The First One to Write it Down Wins

First to Write it Down


How may times have you been in a meeting to discuss new ideas or differing approaches to find that the idea that wins is not necessarily the best idea, but the idea that had been documented? Or how many times have you thought a decision was reached, only to find that the person providing the meeting summary put their bias in the notes and that became the go-forward action. I have seen it more times than I can count and I bet you have too.

At home I recall the number of times we discussed the rules for completing homework, to only end up having another discussion around the rules for completing homework. The game changed when the rules were written down and posted on the refrigerator.

Hijacking the meeting outcome used to drive me to frustration and over the years I have developed a strategy that works for me and I often suggest to others. My strategy is “The first one to write it down wins”. It is as simple as that. Be the first to put the decision or outcome in writing and it greatly increases the likelihood that your idea, suggestion, or direction will be followed.

The strategy is not unique to business meetings or our personal environment but comes from the concept of the “First Mover Advantage”, a common marketing term that refers to the advantage of being the first to enter a specific market or industry. According to Investopedia, the full definition is: “A form of competitive advantage that a company earns by being the first to enter a specific market or industry. Being the first allows a company to acquire superior brand recognition and customer loyalty.”

The term also is recognized in the game of Chess as described in Wikipedia as: “The first-move advantage in chess is the inherent advantage of the player (White) who makes the first move in chess. Chess players and theorists generally agree that White begins the game with some advantage. Since 1851, compiled statistics support this view; White consistently wins slightly more often than Black, usually scoring between 52 and 56 percent.”

It is interesting that this term is used in both Marketing, a science of communications, and Chess, a game of strategy. When we are making a pitch for a specific idea, action or outcome, we are using both strategy and marketing to sell our preferred outcome. Our strategy is most often the idea itself and the marketing is the activity of obtaining agreement. According to the concept conveyed in “FIrst Mover Advantage”, it makes sense that the first person to write the idea down has both the strategic and communication advantage and therefore is more likely to gain the advantage in directing the outcome.

So what can we do to utilize this concept in our daily lives? The simple answer is to be the first to write it down!

Here are some practical suggestions to gain the First Mover Advantage:

What Stands in Your Way?

What Stands in Your Way?


What stands in your way of achieving success? Is it immovable objects or roadblocks needing a new solution? Are you done or just beginning? How do you define success? Does success feel out of reach? These are tough questions. I have asked myself these questions many times and in challenging times looked to others for their advice.

When searching for these answers I have found it helpful to look at other models of success and see what advice they can offer. In this case I suggest looking at the accomplishments and career of the professional athlete Michael Jordan.

I had the opportunity to meet Michael Jordan several times as he was in the middle of his career as an NBA basketball athlete and found him to have an interesting perspective on what it took to achieve his success. He was relentless in pursuing his goals, but not every effort was a success.

Undoubtedly, Michael Jordan as a professional athlete specializing in basketball was a success. Take look at some of his accomplishments:

  • 6 x NBA Champion
  • 6 x NBA Finals MVP
  • 5 x NBA MVP
  • 2 x Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Career Points Scored: 32,292
  • Career Rebounds: 6,672
  • Career Assists: 5,633
  • Career Field Goal % .497
  • Career Field Goals = 12,192

(For those of you who are not sports minded, just take away that these are incredible accomplishments)

As I observed his career I kept track of some of his thoughts and ideas on achieving success and in them found a hint of the drive that made him successful. Let’s take a look at some of these together.

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

–Michael Jordan

This is pretty much on point to the topic we are exploring. From the perspective of being a professional athlete, there was always the challenge of training his mind and body to work together to assert skills beyond the abilities of his competitors.

For us the challenge may be more around acquiring the skills, knowledge and experience to accomplish our wildest dreams, or even just finding a way through the current crisis. The key point here is to recognize that we all have challenges; the road to success requires that we persevere and keep trying new and different ways of overcoming the obstacles.

Rise Above the Issues

Rise Above the Issues so that you can see the entire horizon and the issues will seem smaller and easier to resolve.

Hot Air Baloon over Canyon

To succeed it is necessary to accept the world as it is and rise above it. — Michael Korda

How many times has someone or something made you so angry that you feel like you are going to explode? It happens to me on a regular basis, sometimes it makes me so angry that I cannot stop thinking about it. I remember one incident that made me so angry that I fumed about it repeatedly over an entire week-long vacation with my family. Clearly, I let this get the best of me and needed to follow my own advice, “Rise above the issue”. In the end it was easily resolved, but I put way too much energy into being angry about the the issue compared to what it took to resolve it.

That was just one example for me. How about you? How many times has something at work or at home (or a combination) made you so angry you just start thinking of all of the ways to respond or get back at someone and just kept thinking about it over and over again? It happens to all of us and it drains our energy as we pour emotion into the issue.

The good news and bad news is that we respond by getting angry when things don’t go our way because we care about the topic, issue or outcome. If we didn’t care we wouldn’t think twice about it. When our emotions kick in to this level it is usually because it either impacts us directly, or is something we care deeply about, even if we didn’t realize we cared that much. Even if it doesn’t directly impact us even the idea that the outcome didn’t go the way we wanted and may require additional energy to get it back on track may set off this reaction.