This Is How I Work (series)

This is my take on Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series. I was invited by Anthony Iannarino to follow up his post on the same subject. Hope you enjoy it.

Location: West Orange, New Jersey, US

Current computer: Macbook Air 13-inch (backup computer iMac)

Current mobile device(s): iPhone 5s, iPad mini

What Apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Like Anthony, Evernote has to be my number one app. I use Evernote for taking notes on calls; I forward critical emails and documents to it; I scan receipts and tax returns into it; I use it for medical records; I write blogposts in it; and I especially use it to store .pdfs of key documents I frequently mail out, because I can drag and drop them onto an email. Way easier than attaching files the old way.

Two things people don’t mention enough about Evernote: One is that you can add to Evernote by every input mode yet devised by man, including juice cans with string (well, maybe). Another is it’s a great text editor for plain text.

I am always on the lookout for a great ToDo manager. Anthony turned me on to Omnifocus  which is so far ahead of everything else out there that it’s not even close. Yet you don’t have to tap even a tenth of  its abilities to benefit greatly, and it’s not hard to use. It has the best user manual of any software ever, written by the amazing Kourosh Dini, called Creating Flow with Omnifocus. Still, it may be overkill for many people.

Related to the ToDo is the search for the perfect note-taker-on-the-fly. I’ve found it in Captio, a nifty little phone app. Click to open Captio; dictate whatever text you want; then click on “send.”  You can have the resulting text file automatically sent by default to your email, or to your ToDo list – mine goes to Omnifocus.  Bingo, the perfect app for “omigosh I’ve got to remember to…”

I use DropBox as well; it’s essentially my directory in the cloud, obviating the need for files kept on the hard drive. Among all the obvious uses, it serves as an auto-backup for photographs from the iPhone. Should you ever need it, DropBox has good backup recovery tools, or so I hear. I use 1Password as a password manager, to deal with the impossible task of having different passwords for everything.  This software just got massively better by offering a menu bar icon that logs you in with one click to any member site you visit.  Suddenly password security went from a pain to a delight.

On the social side, I use three twitter clients: Buffer is the main one, the original scheduling client, but also Echofon and HootSuite for particular issues.

And on the sales side, I am very excited about two tools that Ago Cluytens just showed me, Salesloft and Postwire. The first generates rifle-shot targeted leads. The second makes for great-looking and almost-instantly customizable sales and marketing collateral.  Stay tuned. 

What’s Your Workspace Like?

My office roams with me. I do a lot of calls from the car (usually parked). My MacBook Air has a new Thunderbolt display and sits on the end of an old dining room table. My iMac is at a traditional desk in the office. The iPad lives in the living room, where I use it to run Aereo on AppleTV (goodbye cable, haven’t missed you a bit – and I still get ABC and HBO on the Apple TV).  I like to move around. My best reading is done in the hot tub.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

I totally echo Anthony here. First, hire a virtual assistant: thanks Tracey DelCamp! Second, outsource the work for which you are not the primary value creator.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

The older I get the better I get at not being offended by things people say. But then again I’m starting from a low point.

What do you listen to while you work?

I use Internet radio, from Apple TV. For work music, I go for Ambient categories, meditation – massage therapy type music. For real listening, jazz.

What are you currently reading?

Give and Take, a Revolutionary Approach to Success, by Adam Grant

Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony C. Greenwald

Double Down: Game Change 2012, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Ed Schein

What’s your sleep routine like?

11PM to about 5:30AM when the dog gets insistent.

Fill in the blank:

I’d love to see ___________ answer these same questions? He’s got more perspective than I do: David A. Brock (who I am hoping will write his own response and name someone else).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It’s a tossup between, “Nobody cares all that much about your Big Issue anyway so just get over it,” and, “There is a god – and you’re not it.”

Killer Apps 2.0: Siri is Just the Teaser

Last summer I wrote about how speech-to-text software may be a killer app. At the time, I mentioned the rumor about what was to become Siri, the “talk to me” assistant in Apple’s then-upcoming iOS5. I also talked about Dragon Naturally Speaking, a PC-based system.

That was then: this is now. Apple itself is actually understating Siri’s capabilities – and Nuance, maker of Dragon Dictation, has made another huge advance for the you-and-me users out there. In this post, I’ll just deal with Siri: look for the Dragon post shortly.

[Note: I could spin this as being about trust, but that’d be a stretch. Sometimes I just get excited about other stuff – like cool work tools. Hope you like it too.]

Siri: Much More than Meets the Ear

You’ve seen the ads for Siri, seen friends demo it, maybe tried it yourself. And it’s impressive. You can tell Siri “Google the planet Pluto,” or “Remind me to pick up toothpaste next time I’m at the drugstore.” (I use this feature quite a bit).

But the truth is much more powerful. Those are parlor tricks, anthropomorphic gimmicks to introduce a new technology to the masses. You, Trust Matters readers, can handle The Truth. So let me tell it to you.

Forget the virtual assistant. Note instead that speech-recognition capability is now built in to the operating system. That means it’s available to you in almost every window, in almost every app on the iPhone.

What Siri Really Means ­– Now

Let me be clear about what that means. Once inside the data-entry part of an app, you can now speak, and your voice will be converted to text.

For example:

Email: speak your emails – they will convert to text

Messaging: speak your text messages – they will convert to text

Evernote: hit your Evernote app button and just start talking

Twitter: speak your tweets, stop finger-pecking them

Facebook: don’t tap your message, just say it

Google+: don’t type it, just speak it

Search: speak your Google or Bing searches – they will convert to text

Maps: speak your destinations – you get the idea.

You can now speak, instead of type, into almost any text-enterable field in any app. That means Notes, Salesforce, Quora, YouTube, NYTimes, Amazon – you name it.

  • Hate having to type on that little screen? That excuse is no longer valid.
  • Wish you had a dictation service? You do now.
  • Still taking notes by hand until you get home to enter them? Puh-leeze.

The 30,000 Foot View

This technology is not perfect; but it’s even better than the old Dragon app for the iPhone that I wrote about just six months ago, and it’s bound to get better.

As with all technologies, it will be more useful for some things than for others. I find it especially useful in dictating text messages, taking long notes of phone calls or meetings, and dictating thoughts about future articles or blog-posts.

Remember the core value proposition of voice-to-text: We can talk 5x as fast as we can write; and we can read 3x faster than we can listen. That’s a 15x systemic advantage for communications efficiency. When was the last time we saw a technology that improved communications efficiency by 1500%?

Siri is to voice-to-text as a camel’s nose in the tent is to the camel. This will be one very, very big ride.

Next post: voice to text on your Mac or PC desktop as a one-stroke utility – it’s here now.


Many Trusted Advisor programs now offer CPE credits.  Please call Tracey DelCamp for more information at 856-981-5268–or drop us a note @ [email protected].

Get Your Trust Matters App–and Your Own Too

You’re a reader of this blog, TrustMatters. How do you receive it?

Do you subscribe to it in your e-mail inbox?

Do you look at it through an RSS reader?

Do you click on a link and read it in a browser?

Well, now you can be the coolest kid on the block. You can download an iPhone app for TrustMatters. It even looks pretty cool; see for yourself.

No more lengthy waits for your phone browser to load; no more typing in too many letters for the small screen. Download the app, and voila–one touch TrustMatters. Dozens of recent blog posts, available at the touch of your index finger. How cool is that?

How to get it: go to the iPhone appstore, search on Motherapp, then scroll down to Trusted Advisor; the screen image is the one you see above right. (It’s on about the 4th-5th screen).

Of course, the really really cool thing is that you too can have your own app. Not only that: you can get it for free. This comes courtesy of the good people at Mother App. In their words, they are "the industry-leading provider of cross-platform mobile applications." Not just the iPhone platform, either.

I am happy to promote them, because they have given me something of value, and I like the way they do business–sample selling, giving without attachment in order to receive.

Check them out, at their website.

What is an App?

I am not a techie, just a curious dabbler. If you already understand the app’s deeply, much less every programmer, please stop here before you embarrass me.

To me, the experience made me understand a little better just what constitutes an app. In a sense, it is nothing more than a customized URL. Its first cousin is a bookmark in a browser; or, more accurately a tabbed URL in a browser. It sacrifices a small part of your screen in return for convenience in accessing a site.

You can already create your own app for segments of certain sites. For example, I made my own app of the op-ed page in The New York Times.

There was a practical limit to how many apps any of us can accommodate, after which we need another meta-tool to search among the apps. But at the level of several screens of apps, which seems to be the most common among iPhone users, it is a valuable trade-off for several highly trafficked destinations.

And until everyone suffers from app over-load (perhaps not that far off), I just think it’s pretty cool to have your own app.

I like mine, hope you do too.