My father makes his students write one-page briefing memos for the Secretary of State. He also dings them for typos.

Being concise (and accurate) is a business asset. And it can be the difference between selling your idea (or initiative, or product, or service) and sitting on the sidelines.

I was thinking about this as I listened to a pair of CEOs talk about how to grab their attention. One talked specifically about “telling me what I need to know.” His point was that he was best able to make decisions when someone broke down the strategy and put the information into chunks.

A couple more takeaways from the CEOs’ conversation are worth noting, if for no other reason than the fact that they were raised in the first place (yes, more duh moments):

  • Don’t act like a lemming. One of the CEOs, a Swedish national, said that Americans tend to say yes to everything, while Swedish employees are more apt to ask questions and challenge the assumptions on the table. Feedback is critical, so which kind of employees do you want?
  • Know your boss’ temperament. The second CEO pointed out that social intelligence is huge, and you have to know the right (and wrong) times to approach your boss. I wrote about one aspect of this here.

There might have been more takeaways, but the moderator dominated the conversation. So much for concise.

Photo by Olof Senestam (Flickr).