One of my key missions with agency founders is to get them to 'go to the top of the hill' more.

That is, to get away from the ploughing, sowing, weeding on their farm — and to climb up a hill where they can see the whole farm, the incoming weather, the changing seasons, the neighbouring farms and so on.

Some of this time at the top of the hill will be with others. I advocate strongly for having real board meetings (real in that they are not just management meetings with a fancy name, or not just stuffy formal showpieces for status).

But it's also important that some of this time is on your own.

Because up here, as well as the wider perspective and longer-range view, you also get the peace you need to really think.

Journalling is one way founders make time for this high-altitude thinking.

Last week I wrote about the value of keeping a journal as an entrepreneur, and asked for your experiences and tips. This week, I'm going to share a few representative excerpts of those responses.

One founder wrote:

"Yeah I keep a journal. I don't do it explicitly for business, more for all round mental health. But I try and do it daily. On those days I don't feel I have much to explore I reiterate my personal goals and list what I'm grateful for. But on other days when I have more friction in my head, I use it to work though my thoughts, what's causing the issues, and what an alternative perspective is. It's kind of like therapy where I'm the therapist."

Jonathan Smith wrote:

"As I progressed through [each] month, I'd write a simple sentence on the good, the bad and downright ugly things that had occurred, then at the end of the month I'd review, tidy up my notes, and take actions where necessary. I found doing this a great way to keep track of everything from the small wins which are so easily forgotten about, to the downright bad shit that you otherwise quickly try to forget about. It helped me process it, learn from it, and improve for next time. If I ever choose to quickly scan over the Evernote, it immediately takes me back to that exact month in time, for better or worse!"

Jonathan posted his reply to me on LinkedIn, and in the replies, Chris Stott said:

"I find journaling great. I use a combination of both text and paper. The good thing about text is that you can paste [it] in to chatGPT for some analysis if you're being super geeky. Look for patterns, put out actions, act as a CBT therapist, leadership mentor, exec coach etc"

Mostly people journalled in the same way I advise — using it as a chance to think through the agency and your leadership on paper, to grown and improve.

But everyone is different in what they like to write about, and how it helps them. A few people deliberately focused their journal more on life things than business, in a quest for a wider perspective.

One agency founder wrote:

"I keep a journal on the Notes app on my phone. It's just burnt in as a habit — takes 5mins last thing at night to log the details and add any extra insights around it. Structure is free flow. No prompts.

You need strong introspection and the ability to question assumptions and habits. I wonder if it's a common trait with agency folk — in theory we should all be drawn to question the normal.

I've started reading Mediations by Marcus Aurelius, and was struck by just how much he DOESN'T write about. With that in mind I actually try to avoid reflecting on [my agency], unless it's something that is causing a lot of stress. But even then I only note it down to see how I feel about it in a week's time.

Last week I realised that I haven't given a second thought to something that was all-consuming in March — helped reinforce the idea that a situation passes, and in the broader picture is far less relevant or meaningful than my son sitting up for the first time.

On top of the replies from people who do keep a journal, my request also led to chats with people who have been intrigued about journalling, but never quite jumped in.

Either they simply didn't know what to write about, got stuck on thinking about what to use to keep their journal in, or never quite got round to making the time and creating the habit. A few described feeling too self-conscious about the idea.

So, because journalling is such a valuable habit to have, I've decided to launch a mini video course. It'll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with, or to power-up, an agency founder's journal that will be incredibly useful in developing yourself and your agency — taking time at the top of the hill. (There's a pre-registration offer for the course below).

But you don't need to wait for the course to make a simple start, rekindle the habit, or take one next step up with it.

So, this week, what action will you take with your own Agency Founder's Journal?