This Is How I Work (Series)
Location: Varies, at the moment it’s a desk in my room at the Radisson Hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My office is with me, I’m with my clients all over the world. When I’m at my home office, it’s in Southern California.
Current Computer: MacBook Pro. Backup in the home office is an iMac.
Mobile Devices: IPad Air, IPhone 5, Black 180 Page Eureka Lab Notebook and Uniball Rollerball Pen, Priority Pass Card.
What Apps, Software, Tools Can’t You Live Without? Like Charlie and Anthony, my life is captured in Evernote. Everything’s there. Since I travel about 70% of my time, it’s so convenient to have everything accessible from any device at any time.
Another critical application is MindJet. It’s a great mindmapping application. We use it to brainstorm ideas with clients, develop and share project plans and a number of other applications. I really like mindmapping for most brainstorming, planning, and other discussions. In meetings, we don’t tend to think sequentially or even logically. Mindmapping enables you to quickly capture ideas, connections, priorities. You can easily relate one idea to others, move or change things. Since the tool we use is also cloud based, we can share it with clients and collaborate with them through out a project.
Another tool I couldn’t live without is my Black Eureka Lab Book–it’s a hardbound book filled with blank pages (mine happen to be lined and grid lay outs so I can diagram things). Since my work is very mobile, paper and pen are my go to tools for note taking, meeting agendas, “white boarding.” They don’t need power or Wi-Fi to work.
Most importantly, they don’t distract from the meeting. My job is to talk to lots of people, to learn what’s happening, to discuss ideas, to develop plans and strategies for moving forward. Meetings are in offices, conference rooms, hallways, restaurants, in cars, office building lobbies—anywhere. My trusted paper and pen allow me to keep track of everything. I can transfer critical notes and tasks to my computer (Evernote), by taking a picture of a page, or by typing in a quick note.
Likewise, my ToDo list is paper too. Actually, my master ToDo list is in our CRM system, but everyday I print it onto some special cards I carry. The cards are roughly 3.5×8 inches (for the real old timers–they’re the size of the old IBM punch cards.) They fit in my suit jacket easily, I can put them in my notebook, back pocket or anything.
I carry 3 cards around everyday. The first has my schedule. Since I’m on the road so much, I have to be very disciplined in blocking my time. Not only meeting, but phone calls, and other activities. The second card has my To-Do’s for the day. The third card has longer term projects. Every day I try to get something done on the longer term projects.
In addition to Evernote, all our data is in the cloud. We do this since it make it easy to travel–every computer and device in synchronized automatically. I can even borrow someone else’s computer and access our data. We keep all our corporate data in SkyDrive (also using Office 365) and files we share with clients on Dropbox. It’s an odd quirk, but I like keeping them distinctly separate.
We use Saleforce.com for CRM. I’m not enamored with it. It’s really overkill for our needs, but we’ve been using it for many years. We’re actually evaluating some other tools.
Finally, one of the most critical tools is my Priority Pass. Since I travel so much, Airline Clubs become an important refuge to keep one’s sanity. I used to belong to several of the major US airline clubs (paying a steep fee for each), but they didn’t help me with my international travel. A number of years ago, I discovered most of the European execs we work with used Priority Pass. It gets me into hundreds, possibly thousands of clubs around the world. It’s a life saver to be able to escape the airport, have a quiet space to work and a little to eat and drink.
What’s Your Workspace Like? Well, it’s a 17 year old Black Andiamo bag. It has everything in it. All my gadgets, all the cables and power supplies I need to keep my gadgets working, space for working papers, and a special pocket for other things I carry (keys, cufflinks, extra business cards, passport, inoculation records, spare toothbrush/toothpaste).
Originally, I liked that it had a zipper that allowed me to expand the size. I just found myself carrying more stuff, so I don’t use that anymore. It’s nicely broken in. Recently had to put some black duct tape around the handles. The leather covers were wearing through, duct tape took care of all of that–doesn’t look too bad.
What’s Your Best Time-Saving Shortcut/Life Hack? Unwittingly, I’ve become somewhat of a minimalist, so I don’t have a lot of stuff that wastes my time. I outsource as much as I can. I’ve a terrific marketing assistant (Ashley) who helps with a lot of our marketing and client management stuff. I’ve got great accountants and lawyers.
Since I travel so much, simplifying everything around traveling is critical. I’ve some great tools on my IPhone and IPad to help. Packing is easy, I wear blue or grey suits, white shirts, black wing tips (Yes, I’m old school). My “standouts” are crazy ties or cufflinks. I switch to jeans and a sweater in the evening.
Exercise is critical to keep up with my schedule. On the road, I work out in my hotel room or use the hotel pool. In many cities, I can rent a bike and go for a leisurely ride in the early evening, touring the city I’m at. If I can’t do that, I go for a walk. I carry a Fitbit, which allows me to track my exercise.
When I’m at home, my lunch break is a quick 20 mile bike ride. It generally takes about an hour, depending on the route I take. I have a couple of hill climbing routes that take me a little longer.
What Everyday Thing Are You Better Than Everyone Else? I don’t know that I’m better than anyone else at anything, but I have a tremendous ability to focus and concentrate. I can block everything else out and not be distracted. It’s really helpful and keeps me productive–except sometime when my wife is updating me on things—well you know how it is.
What Do You Listen To While You Work? Generally nothing, since I concentrate so much, I don’t hear it if I am listening to something. I listen to music when I read, I’m a big fan of Spotify and have eclectic tastes ranging from classic, jazz, metal, hip hop and others. I sit on the board of an entertainment company that focuses on developing hip hop and rap artists. Imagine that! It’s really extended my tastes in music and enabled me to meet really cool people.
A few years ago, I was sitting in Schiphol between flights. I met some of the guys from Wu Tang. We had a great talk. In Prague that evening, they sent a car to pick me up and go back stage to one of their concerts.
What Are You Currently Reading:
The Art Of Imperfection by Veronique Vienne
The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank
King and Maxwell by David Baldacci (yes, I always have to have a trashy thriller in my reading list.)
What’s Your Sleep Routine:
I generally go to bed around 10-10:30 and get up no later than 4:30, no matter where I am. I’m really a morning person. Since most of my meetings start around 8:30, I get 4 hours to do a lot of stuff, before I have to go to work. 4:30 am wherever I am is the middle of the business day somewhere, so I am always busy with calls.
Fill In The Blank:
I’d love to see ________________ answer these questions.
I’m a big fan of Dave Stein. I continually learn from him, he lives in one of the coolest places in the US. Hopefully, he’ll pick up the challenge.
What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
Hard to tell, I’ve had great mentors and am blessed with great clients and colleagues. Everyday, I learn something new from them.
One piece of advice stands out. I think it was from my father, but it’s “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Also, I read in a bio of Ben Franklin, that he used to ask himself the question, “What good have I done today?” I’ve taken up with that, spending some time journaling every evening and always ask myself that question. It used to be hard to answer, but now that I’ve made it a habit, it’s become easier. It keeps me reminded that I’m fundamentally here to serve others.
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