Ever since I left my corporate gig (so many years ago), I've had to modify my practice to work on the go and be 100% effective. I can't 'forget' anything, I can't carry around stacks of paper, and I certainly can't lose any important information.
What do I do? I have a number of systems and tools to help me be my best at any time for my clients and also be able to boot up my office virtually — anywhere at anytime:
Dropbox is a my online file manager which lets me store up to 100GB, plus it’s also a good way to sync my files across my various work and home computers and mobile devices. I can share files for collaboration, store and share photo and video galleries, and my data will all be safely backed up on Dropbox's secure servers. It connect seamlessly with my file manager, so it acts just like a hard drive — but it's virtual. And when a client needs a big file, I can grant them access to my Dropbox temporarily, let them grab the file, and then lock it down again. It's easy, cheap, and it's never failed me. Check out Dropbox.
2. Crashplan & iCloud
This is my online backup and as my tech team has instructed me, I should have it in two places. So I initially have all of my files regularly backed up to iCloud, Apple's proprietary cloud-based platform. It's transparent and I never notice it working in the background, surreptitiously copying my files and storing them offsite on one of their super-server farms somewhere in Utah. In addition, I use Crashplan, a continuous offsite backup platform with anywhere mobile app access. Even though both have been tested and proven, I have lived through file-loss and hard drive failures, so I have the scars. That's why I use two systems. Check out Crashplan & iCloud.
3. WD 1TB HD & 1TB Portable HD
Now let's move from virtual to actual hard drive backup. This is where I've earned all of my scars. Many years ago, I had an Iomega HD hooked to my laptop and thought the world was all pink and rosy. Then one day, it started to make a funny noise and suddenly, I couldn't access that drive anymore in file manager. All of my files and music were stored on that HD. It took three weeks and $600 to have a service recover most of the info and transfer it to DVD's. Never again. Today, I have two desktop 1TB hard drives from Western Digital (they come highly rated). Their redundancy allows me to ensure if one HD dies, the other has a mirror image at all times. In addition, I carry around a 1TB portable HD to hold many older files that cannot fit on my cherished MacBook Air. Check out my WD 1TB HD and 1TB Portable HD.
4. Macbook Air
My baby. This is the glue that holds my business together. Ever since I started my business, I've been on Apple products. Why? THEY DON'T BREAK. And if there is a problem, Apple is right there on the phone and at the store ready and willing to give me first-class service to fix it immediately. Why the Air? It is ungodly light — it's almost like my iPad. And since it has a 128GB SSD, it boots up within SECONDS. And it's scary fast too. Yes, there is a trade-off with graphics cards and HD space, but all of these weaknesses fall away when you pick it up and start working with it.
The 11-inch Air’s trackpad is still smooth, responsive, and easily the best in its class while the 13-inch display is brighter, clearer, and so vivid over ANY other laptop (other than the retina models). Battery life is phenomenal — I get at least 8 hours on a single charge, so I don't have to run around with my power cord all the time. Check out my Macbook Air.
5. iWork - Pages, Numbers, Keynote
These are the tools which make my business hum. For over 20 years, I worked on a PC and voraciously toiled with MS Office Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. They're great programs, but they're expensive and bloated. Honestly, looking back to my actual usage of each program, it was:
- Word - 30% - I did letters, newsletters, and one-sheet flyers. That's it. No mail-merge.
- Excel - 25% - I ran my financials and linked spreadsheets. But I was no CPA - no pivot tables, etc.
- Powerpoint - 100% - I ran this into the ground and used up all of its features.
Why did I move to iWork? First, it's much cheaper. iWork is $49.00 where MS Office used to run me $300-$400. And no bloatware - each module allows me to all that I could do with Office, but so much more.
- Pages - So much easier to use, the graphics look great, and there aren't a million items to choose from. Fonts are phenomenal and the template layout is easy to execute.
- Numbers - Think of it as Excel Lite. It's perfect for my practice - I never get into trouble and it's easy to develop a quick pie chart or graph for a presentation.
- Keynote - The real power-player of iWork. Hands down superior to Powerpoint - when I give presentations with Keynote, attendees flock to me and ask, "Who does your presentations? I've never seen them before."
Check out iWork.
This is the platform I use to run my website, blog to my readers, and get clients. It's robust, the leader in the industry, and it always has additional features to allow me to upgrade immediately. Not only that, it is so easy to use — logon, click 'New Post' and I'm off and running! I use the Thesis template and had Nurenu Brand Marketing design and build it. Check out Wordpress.
7. iPhone & IPad
Too much has been written on both the iPhone and iPad (and today you're probably going to see a lot more). But I use them EVERY day:
iPhone - this is my portable computer. I check it at least once every 10-15 minutes and I use over 70 apps to make my business and personal life easier. I've owned the original iPhone, the 3Gs, and now the 5. All three have been consummate workhorses and have allowed me to be the best coach I can be. Check out the Apple iPhone.
iPad - I use my iPad both as a personal tool (reading, surfing, movies, music) and a professional tool (presentations, training, blogging, email, etc.). Even though I have a Macbook Air, my iPad allows me to instantaneously access information and make decisions within seconds. It too has 60-70 key apps that help me navigate the web for info. Check out the Apple iPad.
8. Go To Webinar
This is my online tool to host my various Masterclasses (Get Tough!, and soon: Bulletproof Your Career & Accelerate Your Coaching Practice) and reach hundreds of members weekly. I can host teleconferences, webinars with presentations, or full video. It's reasonable ($99/month), reliable, and the interface is intuitive. Most competitors to GTW have terrible usability and are all but impossible to use — just ask anyone who uses these tools. Check out Go To Webinar.
9. Get Response
When I started my coaching practice, I used to send out PDF newsletters via email. What I started to find is a severe drop-off of readership because corporate mail servers began to interpret my emails as spam (even though their employees requested them). I had to turn to an automated service. Initially, for many years, I was with a cool service called Emma. They got the job done and their interface and look gave my messages a real elegance. Unfortunately, they became pricey if I wanted to send out multiple messages during a month. I then moved to Constant Contact. I found their interface and design wanting and ultimately realized they were nickel and dime-ing me for every little service. I then found Get Response. The perfect mix of Emma and Constant Contact — taking the best of both worlds and delivering them for less than $20 a month (and it has SO much more!). Check out Get Response.
10. Thule Crossover Sling Pack
I've been professionally working since 1984 and I've carried scores of briefcases, bags, backpacks, etc. back and forth to work. Lately, I've noticed many people pulling back on all the crap we carry and really culling down to what we really need to get the job done. That's why I bought the Thule Sling Pack. It's light, fits comfortably on my back, frees both hands if I need them, and holds ALL the stuff I need to be a traveling professional warrior. It has many pockets and is thoughtfully designed to organize all of the errant cables, pens, papers and electronics I carry. It's sitting on my table as I type (see photo). Check out the Thule Crossover Sling Pack.
Well . . . that's it. I hope you've enjoyed my extended post this morning and it gave you a little insight into the powerful tools I use to keep my practice running smoothly. If you have any questions about any of the tools I listed, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below (I LOVE comments!).