8 x 10 mini whiteboard. $20 for 10. Sometimes the best way to prove a complex point is to draw a simple diagram. You can do that on paper, but a whiteboard makes it easier to edit on the fly, and pull your investor / client / partner into the process. Just in case there’s no whiteboard in the room, I keep this mini whiteboard in my bag at all times.
BOSE noise canceling headphones. $350. Ok this was a splurge, but I use them every day. Noisy train / plane / starbucks making you crazy? Slip these babies on, and you may as well be in the basement of a library. Goodbye, ADD. Hello, laser focus.
HP12C Calculator. $65. Standard issue MBA calculator. Frankly, I forgot how to do most of the things this baby is capable of, like calculating bond yield curves. Once in a while I’ll run a Net Present Value on it, but the real reasons I use it are twofold. First, nobody ever steals it, because they can’t figure out how to use the damn thing. And second, it makes a statement: I can crunch numbers with the best of them. So yes, I put some real thought into my projections, and no, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes with that fancy deal structure.
Moleskine notebook. $18. How many meetings have you had in the past 3 months? Remember who you met, when, and what the next steps were? Me neither. That’s why I jot everything down in a moleskine. They are uber portable, and sophisticated enough to pull out in the board room. If they were good enough for Picasso and Hemingway, they’re good enough for me.