iPod Touch + OmniFocus is all that and a bag of chips

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

First and foremost, my apologies for being vacant for so long. At some point in time I was getting so wrapped up in the toys I researched that I became captive to them. They took me to a hidden island where I finally escaped but not without permanent damage to the right side of my body. Plus I’ll never eat another coconut in my life. Ever.
I’ll have to tell you about it some day.

iPod Touch Home Screen

iPod Touch Home Screen

Discovering the iPod Touch

As I sit here recovering, typing with one hand I might add, I must tell you about my latest discovery. Actually two. Let’s start with the iPod Touch.  I know, I know.  I’m a Johnny Come Lately on this technology – guilty as charged.  But I have to get this off my chest, OK?  At work the Blackberry is still commonly used, particularly in my area where the iPhone and 3G are not available. So, what’s a loyal Apple guy like me to do? After some research I uncovered the dubious plot of purchasing my iPod Touch and with the proliferation of WiFi in every nook and cranny, I determined I would save millions from data costs that the Blackberry requires. So I picked up the 32GB iPod Touch for about $399, later purchasing a car mount/charger (which my kids love) and a travel charger.

Let me confirm all the reports – the iPod Touch (or iPhone in those markets) is truly a wondrous item. Using the App Store, I have nearly 80 apps (with plenty of room to add more, I might add). Ranging from recipes to games to productivity apps, I cannot say enough about the Touch.  Whether you use a treadmill or armband, the Touch is also a great workout companion.  The Nike+ app for the Touch allows you to run to a designated playlist, keeps track of your pace, mileage and will also alert you to new personal bests with celebrity voiceovers like Lance Armstrong.  The Safari allows up to 8 different screens to access and the integration of contacts to mail to Google Maps is incredible.  I recommend the Google Mobile app as well since you can access your RSS feeds through Google Reader fairly seamlessly.  And, did I mention you can combine your various email accounts into the Touch.  I can actually rifle through emails much faster on the Touch than on my desktop.

OmniFocus

There are so many great free apps for the Touch, but when it came to productivity, I wanted to shell out a little bit of money and eventually decided upon OmniFocus. Incorporating Getting Things Done mentality, OmniFocus has a simple interface but allows you to enter projects and tasks – and you can place the projects within Folders of like kind.

OmniFocus app

OmniFocus app

In my organization, we set annual goals and 90 day plans, similar to most of you. Using OmniFocus, I put my annual goals as Folder titles and then my 90 day plans fall into my projects within those folders. Next action steps are attached to the projects and now each week I can easily look at my projects. If there is no action item in that project, then I know I must add some tasks to keep it on track. Not only can you attach timeframes to your tasks, you can also assign them to your overall project.  OmniFocus alerts you to items that are due soon (based on your preferenes) and also shows items that are overdue as well as those you have flagged for a higher priority, etc.
OmniFocus for the iPhone/Touch syncs with the desktop version of OmniFocus for an add’l $79, but I have not gone that route just yet. Using the Touch has been more than adequate for my needs – but I could be tempted to go the desktop route some time in the future.

Saves Money

I could probably start a whole series of other things I’ve discovered for the Touch.  As you can see, you can actually take screenshots with no app or download needed.  It has its own internal speaker but I highly recommend headphones.  Apple recently released a headphones/microphone combo that is nice.  The mic is OK, but it can allow you to use your wifi and convert your Touch into a phone using an app called TruPhone.  Seriously!
I would close on this simple fact – when you combine the costs of data packages you’ll spend annually, the affordability and flexibility of the Touch just can’t be beat.  My 32GB model has allowed me to download the apps I’ve mentioned, close to 2,500 songs, at least 8 movies and many podcasts.  And I still have 13 GB left, if not more.  For my money, the iPod Touch is a great value in today’s market and will save you money over the long haul using wifi versus cell phone networks.

iPod Touch – Valentine’s Day is over, but I confess – I love you.  Let’s go grab a cup of coffee.

Are You Ready To Lead?

According to Seth Godin’s book, Tribes, leadership is needed now more than ever.  Ever since I started listening to it, I have been challenged and motivated by each word he speaks out.  I’m anxious to purchase the book as soon as I’m done listening so that I can underline the phrases an iPod doesn’t give you the luxury to do.

IDEAS

While Tribes has many great ideas, in particular a great discussion on faith versus religion and why we need it (perhaps not like you think), I’m still mesmerized and yet wondering why a book like this has not surfaced in a while.  I grew up with a father who had many ideas but chose to play it safe as a bodyman and work an honest living to provide for his family.  I am always humbled by my father and his integrity.  But at the same time I wonder where my father (and his family) would have been had my father acted on just one of his ideas.  Where would you be and what ideas have you let slip by?

VISUALS

Tribes mentions a few hundred times the need to become a leader and goes into a few details on what that means.  Me, I’m visual, so that’s one reason why I need to buy the book.  But another visual aid I’ve come across recently is a wonderful blog/company called IQ Matrix.  The author, Adam Sicinski has put together an incredible visual methodology to show what various traits, vocations – and even books look like.  Let’s be honest, it’s a mind map; but for those who have never heard of such a thing, it’s a highly powerful technique many use as a memory device.  The example below is a snippet from a larger matrix on Excellent Leadership.

A sample of what Leadership looks like

A sample of what Leadership looks like

My goal is not to steal any thunder from Seth or IQ Matrix.  Rather it is to bridge the two thoughts and help the cause – building leaders.  One of my favorite parts of the overall matrix (not pictured) is on a leader being a visionary:  An Extraordinary Leader is a visionary. They Think BIG and picture what they want in their minds with clarity and purpose. Moreover they share these visions and plans with others in order to move and inspire them into action for one common purpose and cause.”

As Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying, “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.” What abilities do you have that remain untapped?  Invariably you possess that next best idea but you’re not sure where to start.  Today’s web and its many opportunities to connect on tools such as Twitter are great launching points.  Lead.  We need you.

Does this visual representation help you want to become a leader?  For leaders, does this provide a check list or methodology to sharpen up any weak areas and improve on your strong traits that much more?  Tell me what you feel are leadership traits not represented on the overall matrix and let’s see if a supplemental list might be generated – want to help?

What NOT To Do on Twitter

Customer Service Isn't Asking Too Much, Is It?

Customer Service Isn't Asking Too Much, Is It?

Yesterday I was on Twitter, my new home away from home.  I thoroughly enjoy the complexities of certain conversations, the learning opportunities and the camaraderie of Twitter.  It’s a fun community and a place to build relationships.  You can agree where you like, choose to disagree where you feel appropriate and in the end pull away a little smarter.

All was well until I noticed a post by an internet marketing consultant/saleman for a prominent SEO site.  On this particular day it would be safe to assume this person was not closing enough of his prospects.  His use of language about his lack of success would be inappropriate for this blog, but his comments in general were of particular offense to me as a businessman.  I engaged him in a side conversation to qualify his statement and it was quickly evident he was oblivious.  Oblivious in more ways than one.

Please take note:  Twitter is an online community of individuals.  You can learn much.  You can open doors of many kinds.  And like other social networks, it is a place to extend your personal brand – and that of your company’s.  If you place your org’s information in your profile, then you owe it to yourself and your company to act with a certain level of decorum and maturity.  With many opportunities, why would you ever consider launching an attack that would be deemed offensive by many who use Twitter like marketing directors? And with so many eyes?

Social networks are about relationships and about building your brand with very little expense.  Part of building relationships no doubt involves common courtesy including a level of customer service.   Another part involves respecting potential clients and people in general.  Take my advice – treat people with respect and you will surely see it come back to you.  Go the route of this salesperson in question – and you may find yourself reaching your full potential, working on a different computer one day.  One that calculates french fry, shake, and hamburger combos…

What do you think?  Should you include your company name in your profile and not be accountable?

Don’t Market Your Product Like this, Denis Leary

Leary's career - soon to be up in flames?

Leary's career soon to be up in flames?

C’mon Denis!  Is your confidence in your abilities and “talents” so low that you have to pick on children with autism?

For those not in the know, Denis Leary has a new book due next month, “Why We Suck.”  In the meantime, his pre-press release includes some snippets where one chapter in his book called Autism Schmautism says, “There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you – yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”

Leary is also cited in Vanity Fair where he hopes that people like Jenny McCarthy, famed autism mother, will organize people to picket his book tour because that will only help his book sales.  Say it with me – “PUBLICITY STUNT.”

Seriously, this blogger doesn’t get on his soap box too often, but it’s high time when you decide to target children and parents who have a challenge each day bringing up their child with so many unanswered questions regarding autism.  It is so disgusting when celebrities think that they can use their status to make judgements on things they either don’t understand or are too ignorant to research first.  To date Leary’s only apology has been in the form of a misunderstanding towards what his book is really about and that you have to read it to understand.  Uh, OK – drop $20 to affirm your publishing house’s press release that you’re an insensitive and arrogant bully?

Take action with me – write an email to his publisher Viking-Penguin.  Ask them if this is responsible writing and wait for the answer…

Wait a minute!  Do you smell something?  Is that from the set of Denis Leary’s show, “Rescue Me?”  Is that a burning building from the set I smell?  Oh wait, I know what it is.  That’s called the beginning of the end of a career…

OK, I’m off my soap box, but in all honesty – is all this bad PR worth selling a few books at the expense of children with autism AND their parents?  Strategically, and sadly, this conversation will undoubtedly cause people to buy the book.  For those who are looking to spend $20 a different way, choose a local charity or autism foundation.

(Full disclosure:  when I’m not blogging, I work with Children’s Care Hospital and School where 60% of our children have autism or behavioral challenges and where positive changes are made despite the ignorance of those unfamiliar with what autism is really about.)

The Face of Poverty

TODAY’S REALITY

Remember a cartoon where a father named George had a wife named Jane and two kids in tow – and the majority of the cool factor of the show revolved around pushing buttons to make things happen?  It’s only too bad that the Jetsons couldn’t be here today to show us how to turn Poverty’s power off.  But that simply isn’t reality and today we’re caught in a difficult time where Poverty is very much an issue.  And, it’s much larger than we might give it credit.

PREVALANCE

Ask yourself – what percentage of American’s live in poverty?  Mind you, there are several countries where poverty is an issue, but being a world power, is it possible that Poverty is really that prevalent here?  I’ll answer that for you in a bit, but formulate an answer before we get there, OK?

When you think of Poverty, do you think of the homeless people on the streets or perhaps those looking for a ride as you get off the highway and head into the city?  Certainly homeless people are included in the Poverty community, but there are many more that qualify in this category as well.

FACES

The photos you see are a few faces I hope no one has to experience in person.  To me these are the true faces of poverty.  The faces are of children in obvious states of poverty.  Perhaps not in all cases, but these children are innocent victims lacking proper shelter, food, clothing, education and medical assistance.  Would it surprise you to know that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty conditions?  These numbers were taken from a 2005 survey.  That same survey compared to 2000 numbers shows Poverty to be on the rise. Poverty destroys.  But it can be stopped.

Poverty is a complex issue and not solved overnight.  But you can start today.  Whether its a small donation to a local charity, the giving of your time to help those in need or the formation of a cause related group, Poverty can be disrupted and decreased.

For more information on how you can help, visit www.blogactionday.org or click on the button below.  Today is the day to act.


Blogging – It’s about community…and coffee

Computer, coffee cup holder, and community provider

Computer, coffee cup holder, and community provider

When you think of blogging, what comes to mind?  For me, blogging brings to mind community and coffee.  Let me explain.  As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of Joffrey’s coffee.  What started off as a Java Beta Test turned into a free coffee sample for this new blogger and about 1,500 others to try their product (by the way – the test is over in the event you try to still find it).  The Web 2.0 strategy behind it all was a great example of how the web can be used to entertain while reward AND not be a bother.  It was permission based; pull and not push.  A few months later the outcome of Joffrey’s Beta Test led to a new flavor, Coffee 2.0.  Clever idea – AND a great product.
At basically 5 cents a cup, this varietal will kick your morning into high gear and has a very smooth flavor.

REACHING OUT

OK, so in that promotion, not only did I learn about a great product I would have never been exposed to, I was also welcomed into the Blogosphere because any blogger who signed up on the Beta Test was sent a free sample.  I was reinforced that blogging has a few perks aside from a few kind comments.  I was exposed to community.
I was also exposed to Adam Singer, the digital marketer behind Joffrey’s promotion.  Well…not exposed literally.  I took advantage of the community feel that blogging gives you and I reached out to Adam and commended him for a great promotion.  He emailed me back in about 10 minutes and a friendship was formed.  Later I found out that Adam has a blog of his own and is an accomplished musician as well.  I now read his blog, The Future Buzz and I enjoy his music.  And from time to time we’ll Twitter or email each other.  Coffee brought community.

GREAT PEOPLE IN WEB 2.0

Had I never taken the initiative to start my own blog I would have never come across a great new marketing tool(s) in social media.  I would also be lacking from a great community I’ve come to really enjoy and from knowing the many individuals who have been kind to me and many others.  I’m talking about people like John Wall and Christopher Penn from Marketing Over Coffee; CC Chapman from Managing the Grey (thanks for the card); Lisa Johnson from Reach Group, Albert Maruggi from Marketing Edge; Chris Brogan – Social Media Extraordinaire; Jim Tome of eHealthcare Marketing, Mark McGuinness now of Lateral Action, Whitney Hoffman of LDPodcast, Zena Weist of Nothin’ But SocNet, Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog, and of course, Adam Singer, who I mentioned earlier, with The Future Buzz.  Now, I could have mentioned a few more (and I deeply apologize if I left anyone out), but these individuals I expressly mention because they typify SOCIAL media.  They preach it.  They live it.  They help it.  They advocate it.  And I know this personally because I’ve gotten a comment(s) or email(s) back from each. What kind of cool world is this!  Between blogs, podcasts and the social networks, these are the best of the best.

It will be a long time, perhaps never, that I would ever aspire to the level of prowess these individuals exhibit.  But as a role model to me, I hope I can return the favor and help those with what I have learned (which is a lot more than I knew a year ago).

MAKE THE COMMUNITY WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE

A Community Connected to Many

A Community Connected to Many

We are a community.  Whether blogger or blog reader, there are millions of us who write or read and pass on our thoughts, opinions and expertise to benefit mankind.  Now more than ever we need this kindness that is exhibited online and make it a reality offline.  Akoha looks to lead this charge of making the world a better place and I eagerly anticipate the public release of their “pay it forward” mission cards.  But each of us must participate in that charge as well.  Just remember that when the guy in the lane next to you cuts you off – don’t allow his actions to cause you to do the same.  With the same good intentions you have when you blog or comment, take those same intentions and put them in the real world.

Our current economic situation is forcing us to take a good hard look at the mess that’s been made.  Because checks and balances were not correctly in place, a new level of accountability will undoubtedly be put in place.  As we look to the future, we must rely on each other, just as our 2.0 Community already does, and start being more accountable to how we treat each other in the real world as well.  Start tomorrow and make the world a friendler place – it all starts with a cup of coffee.

Top 10 Ways Twitter Could Improve

Are You Addicted?

Are You Addicted?

If you’re like me, you enjoy using Twitter.  It’s fast, interactive and you can shut it off, unlike email, when it becomes to be too much.  Most people I know who use Twitter have a semi-addiction, so shutting it off might be harder for some.  Anywho, I thought I’d put together my list of improvements and see what you come up with as well.  Can’t hurt, right?

  1. Larger bio section – limited section now allows little to be found in common with each other
  2. Protect my updates abolished – are you kidding me?  This is Twitter, not Quiver.  If you need your updates protected, call someone on your phone; otherwise join the community!
  3. Enlarged profile area – additional areas could be added to list your industry, marital status, hobbies, etc. – again, more ways to seek commonalities
  4. Meeting rooms – not a new concept, but you search and find areas of interest and are able to chat with a segment of your group and others on things like football or croquet (hey, you play, so don’t deny it!)
  5. Criteria to kick out those who incessantly tell you every painstaking detail of their day – watching TV with my cat, painting my nails, sorting my baseball cards – give me a break.
  6. Tags for posts that merit special attention or good links so that others can seek and find them
  7. Improved user interface – the web-based window is large, chunky and not practical
  8. For those using the web based product – could you auto-refresh the window – please?
  9. Alphabetical listing of those you follow and those who follow you
  10. Finally, another user interface suggestion – an edit/format bar that allows BOLD type to stress your point and a place to insert pictures (hey, they are worth 1000 words, but I guess that’s 860 too many…)

So, that’s my list, so far.  I’m sure there are many more who have used Twitter much longer and have many and probably better suggestions – what would you add?

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