Taking Notes
Taking Notes

Taking Notes


Note taking is something that people might easily dismiss as just writing things down. A more valuable framework is creating a second brain for you to interact with as you dive deeper into any given topic. You want information readily available and your brain is better spent creatively connecting ideas rather than trying to memorize everything you read.

What matters is not what your system for taking notes is, but mostly that you have one. There is a lot of thought around how to take notes, particularly things like how to take smart notes, touching a lot on reading books. Taking notes on researching an investment thesis should be like a reverse process.

  1. Highlighting key takeaways from every article, book, market map, report
  2. A key themes summary of the commonalities you see across all of that research
  3. A simplified summary paragraph focused on (1) key points and (2) action items

Note: In the below summary you can see the full text in

but the key points are the structure where each highlight is an article and underneath are the key takeaways from that article, and then you progressively summarize ideas at the top of the page.

Key Takeaways From Each Article


is about finding the right sources you then have to be able to systematically extract information from those sources. Keeping in mind your framework, you're trying to fill in the details of your existing pieces and identify new ones. Each source you're trying to extract the most relevant pieces of information that you can later thread together across sources.

Summarizing Key Themes

Once you've reviewed all the sources you have found thus far you review each of them looking for the common threads. What ideas come up again and again? What fits into your framework? What is common enough that it's obviously important that you need to investigate further? The idea is that someone (including your future self) can understand all the most important points from every source through this summary without reading each source.

Key Points and Action Items

Many an analysis has died from analysis paralysis. After every research deep dive and summarization it's critical to step back and say "what are the really important takeaways here? And what are my remaining questions?" The point is to always know what your next steps are, otherwise you're just researching for the sake of research.



"The revenue cycle management market is attractive for three key reasons: (1) reason A, (2) reason B, and (3) reason C. Key questions that we need to further understanding include: (1) question A, and (2) question B."

See full example here:

Revenue Cycle Management Note Taking Exercise

Taking Notes During Calls & Meetings

Unlike when you're reading articles and reports, doing research on a specific thesis, taking notes during a conversation is a different beast. There is also a difference if it's just a 1x1 meeting between you and someone else vs. taking notes where someone on your team is leading the conversation.

  • Capture all the ideas in the conversation: This isn't about just writing what sticks out to you. You're creating a summarized bulleted list of every topic that's discussed
  • Write with recall in mind: The reason you're taking notes is so that you and your colleagues can return to that call in the future to re-capture insights. That's only possible if you capture the main ideas from every part of the conversation
  • Save yourself future work: If you write your notes in big endless bullet point lists with terrible punctuation and not finishing a sentence then you'll spend hours cleaning up notes later; try your best to make the notes presentable to the point where you could hang up the call, copy and paste the notes, and email them to your boss and not be worried.
  • Use sections for easy navigation: Depending on the format of the conversation you can build your sections based on high-level discussion points or questions that they're responding to
    • Example:
      • Key Product Points
        • Focused on scalability
        • Built with end-user in mind
      • Product Differentiation
        • Competitors are built are on breadth of function but don't scale as well

Tips and Tricks

  • Build and maintain a life-long note taking system: There are a number of different tools you can use including Roam Research, Notion, Bear Notes, Obsidian, Evernote, OneNote, and thousands of others. What is important is not which system you use but that you have and you think about it meticulously as your "second brain."
  • Progressive Summarization is a process for systematic note taking; use it
  • TGME is a good rule of thumb in terms of how you look at it and how you tell the story
    • Telescopic: Impact it has on society, customers, and what's being created
    • Ground-level: What are they actually producing? What's the product / service and differentiating factor? Revenue / cost streams?
    • Microscopic: Workflows, processes, and organizational idiosyncracies
    • Execution: What systems do they have in place (production, administrations, building, etc.) that gives them a competitive advantage?


Quotes About Note Taking

“As part of his self-improvement course, Franklin read the essays, took brief notes, and laid them aside for a few days. Then he tried to recreate the essay in his own words, after which he compared his composition to the original. Sometimes he would jumble up the notes he took, so that he would have to figure out on his own the best order to build the essay’s argument.” (Benjamin Franklin: An American Life)

What People Are Saying

Further Reading

Taking Notes: Other Resources