Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Ever since my children began to drive I gave them some of the same advice that my dad gave me. One was to never to bring the car home empty and always fill up when the tank was about a quarter full. Recently, my daughter (and I hope she doesn’t see this) ran out of gas on the interstate. And as she sat there for nearly two hours waiting for the roadside assistance truck to pull up, those words of advice ran through her head. When she got home I ask her if she thought she would wait until the gas light came on again before getting gas.  Her answer was that she had, unfortunately, learned her lesson the hard way.

I would think at my age that I wouldn’t have to learn lessons the hard way.  But, recently I too have had to learn something the hard way. Hopefully, these suggestions below might prevent someone else from having to learn this lesson the hard way.

Almost 5 years ago had a disagreement with a company. I believe I went above and beyond what would be considered normal to resolve the issue. However, no resolution seemed to be forthcoming. I informed the company what my position was and what my actions were going to be. Obtaining no objection, I followed through on what I stated I was going to do. Now, five years later, they are approaching me again.

Here are four suggestions:

  1. Document. Document – With any business transaction, there is no such thing as not enough documentation. Documentation should contain the party or parties that were present, what was discussed, the date, and the time.  In my case, I actually went to this company’s office and documented where those offices were located, who I spoke to, as well as the date and time that I was there. I also documented what the next steps were to be at the end of that conversation.
  2. Rewrite Your Notes – Taking notes during a conversation can be difficult. Taking the time after the meeting while the conversation is fresh to rewrite the notes can help insure that all the important points are covered.  If there are some items that are unclear, don’t hesitate to speak with your contact and get it cleared up.
  3. Stay Organized – Keep the notes in a chronological order. If documentation such as forms, logs and agreements were discussed, insert a copy of those documents in the notes where they were discussed. This way they can be easily retrieved when necessary.
  4. Save. Save – if documentation is a key component, then so is saving. Your documentation should be saved at least until the statute of limitations has expired, which is usually seven years. This is the mistake I made. After about three years, I had not heard anything, so I assumed that this matter was over and I destroyed my documentation. Now, five years later, I’m scrambling to try and remember and piece together the sequence of events. With digital storage and the cloud, there is no reason not to save this information in a form that takes little space, is easy to retrieve, and can be kept for an adequate amount of time.

Unfortunately, I guess we all learn things the hard way from time to time.  But for me, I won’t get caught by this one again.