My weapons of business war, 2014

Todd SchnickHere is a quick summary of all the tools I use in my day-to-day business operations.

Evernote. Evernote serves as my content and idea archives. I store endless articles and content here for ideas, further review, and inspiration. In fact, this post started out as scribbled draft notes in Evernote. With every passing year, I do more and more in Evernote.

Macbook Pro. My main computer. Here I do most of my writing, my podcast recording, and my podcast editing. I am doing more and more on my mobile devices, but have no plans to eliminate a machine like this from my arsenal. I will, however, replace this with a Macbook Air when the time comes.

iPhone. I’ve just recently acquired the 5S, which I love. In addition, I adore the IOS7 update as well. I’ve very much like the larger screen, and while I don’t want that screen to get too much larger, I wouldn’t mind a slightly larger one.

iPad. My iPad serves as the vehicle by which I consume content: My books, films on Netflix, essays/blog posts sent via email, and news apps like Zite. The larger iPhone has made me question the long-term necessity of a tablet, although at this point, I am sure I would always maintain some type of tablet, if for no other reason, to watch films via Netflix.

Moleskine notebook. Improved proficiency with note-taking and organizing thoughts and ideas on my iPhone, I still very much need the ability to take handwritten notes and jot down ideas and action items from time to time. For this task, I will always use my Moleskine notebooks. I use the black soft-cover squared 5″ X 8.25″ notebooks.

Field Notes. On many occasions where I am mobile, I prefer to use the smaller Field Notes for my handwritten notes. These notebooks fit nicely into my pocket. I use the graphed, 3.5″ X 5.5″ three-pack notebooks.

Uni-ball Vision fine point pens (black ink). For when I write in my notebooks.

Zoho. This is the CRM system I maintain with my partners at my company, Dreamland Interactive.

37 Signals’ Highrise. But this is the “CRM” and task management system I use to manage my day-to-day business and sales activities. I tried for a year to use Zoho for this, but just couldn’t get into the interface, and it didn’t work the way I worked. Highrise is a simple, beautiful design that works perfectly with me and my style.

Gmail. My email service of choice. I love how I can customize my platform interface here, and I make ridiculous and glorious use of the labels to organize and archive my emails. I do my best to maintain a daily INBOX ZERO. Plus, Gmail does sync nicely with my iPhone and iPad.

Dropbox. As a professional podcaster, this is where I store all my audio files. However, I’ve also recently pledged to bail on storing paper files, so over the course of 2014, I will scan most of those documents, and digitally file them away in Dropbox. Dropbox is also how I share large files with clients.

Google Hangouts. As my team is entirely mobile and home-based, this is how we hang out around a virtual water cooler. You might also expect us to record more of our podcasts on this platform in 2014 as well.

Skype. With Call Recorder. As a professional podcaster, a majority of my interviews are conducted over the internet. At this time, Skype is my preferred choice of tools to use. Call Recorder is the great add-on tool that enables me to record all conversations, and easily convert to mp3 files for editing. And of course, Skype remains a great platform to use to conduct my virtual meetings with clients and prospects.

Blue Yeti microphone. As a professional podcaster, this is my microphone of choice. Easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and results in great sound.

Post-it easel (whiteboarding sheets) pads. Sometimes, I just need to stand in front of a wall and sketch out ideas, and be able to stand back and look at what I’ve produced to take in the big picture. And this is really helpful with teams from time to time. I use the 2.5 ft. X 2.08 ft. sticky sheets. And yeah, I use Sharpie fine point markers for when I do my whiteboarding!

Lift app. My favorite app of all-time. Designed to help you form better work and life habits, Lift has become a tool that significantly impacts and improves my daily productivity. It keeps getting better every day. Plus, my chat with the founder.

Fut.io. This email reminder service is a great tool. I experimented with using this as a task manager, but it didn’t work as well as I initially thought. But this is a really great way to send yourself simple reminders and to dos, such as when I need to remind myself to return a call to someone. I can have an email sent to me at the precise time I need to place the call. The service also has a very useful “snooze” function as well.

Cardmunch. This is also one of my favorite apps. Enables me to snap a photograph of a newly-acquired business card, which then allows me to connect on LinkedIn, send follow-up email, add to database, and most importantly, stops the hideous practice of storing thousands of nearly-useless actual business cards.

WordPress. The blogging platform of choice, which I’ve used since late 2008. I love it, am familiar with it, great for SEO, and they continue to improve its design and functionality. Almost 20% of the world’s websites are now wordpress-based.

Pressbooks.com. This online, wordpress-based platform is how I draft and publish my books. Being wordpress-based makes it very easy to organize content for a book, or to write fresh material. Finally, it exports the files into mobi, epub, and PDF formats that make it very easy to upload to Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and other channels. If you plan to do any book publishing, this is a must-have. Plus, my chat with the founder!

Chrome. My internet browser of choice. I’ve used them all, and for me, this one rarely crashes. Plus, the extensions you can use make it very efficient and useful. For instance, the Evernote extension makes that app wicked awesome.

Google Drive. Although I store a ton of content on both Dropbox and Evernote, Google Drive remains an important tool for my business. I use the forms function a lot (which integrates nicely into my online world), plus the sharing and collaborative capability enables my business partners and I a simple way to coordinate and keep tabs on projects.

Notational Velocity. I take most of my notes on Evernote, but I do NOT use the app on my actual laptop (it crashed far too often). Thus, I use the online version on my Macbook. So, on the rare occasion I need to take notes on my laptop and I don’t have an internet connection, Notational Velocity works great.

Mailchimp. My email service provider for all my email marketing campaigns. I love Mailchimp, and have used it for years (even pushing most of my clients to use it). In addition to being an Atlanta-based company, I love its ease of use and the recent upgrades greatly improved the service. One disappointment is that it appears the “Forever Free” program no longer includes the autoresponder functions, which is too bad. But I’d still recommend the service.

Moo.com. Moo is the service I use (for both me and my clients) to produce, print, and ship my business cards. Really cool company, great quality products, and really cool design. The website site is very easy to use as well.

Social networks of choice (in this order): Twitter, G+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I love Vine, Quora, Pinterest, and This is my Jam, but just don’t have the time to use them very often, or they don’t have real business value to me.

Finally, when I am mobile, I use a Swiss Army Swissgear Airflow backpack to carry all my stuff around. Durable, attractive, and easy-to-use and everything is easy access. And has plenty of room to let me carry along a water bottle (or two).

So that’s it, these are my weapons of business war. What do you think? Any comment on the tools listed above? Any other tools that you use and recommend? Please share!

Weapons, circa 2011
Weapons, circa 2012

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Hey You! Yeah, The Guy With The Stack Of Business Cards Filling Up That Drawer

For the first time in my life, I have ZERO business cards (other than mine) in my office. This suits my minimalist lifestyle just fine.

And yeah, I went through the stages, just like you:

1. I purchased that lovely black notebook with the plastic see-through sheets where you could insert people’s business cards into them. That ended up being crap. Like I had any desire to carry another damn notebook around.

2. Then I moved to containers on the desk, after I had collected thousands of cards. In these, I actually alphabetized them by last name. Spent hours and hours getting it set up. And then never looked at that pile of crap again. Once, I actually had to remove a spider web from the F – J container.

3. Then, I got the smartphone! And decided, “Hey, I won’t actually save the business card, but I will key in the person’s data into my database, and sync to the phone.

[Disclaimer: I never purchased one of those business card scanners. Mainly because 97% of the people I knew who had one constantly bitched that the thing was largely useless, and they spent more time correcting the scanned data than if they had just keyed it in themselves to begin with.]

And after about eight cards, this became a pain in the ass. And after a week, I was back to having stacks of cards sitting on the desk, waiting to be entered.

But then I discovered Evernote…

Now, this isn’t a post about how to use Evernote. Because, quite frankly, if you dig deep enough into Evernote, you will discover that you could probably run NASA with it, it’s that awesome. In fact, if you are using Evernote seriously, you are a fan. But most of you are probably saying, “I’ve heard good things, but just not sure what to do with it.”

Well, let me give you one suggestion for using Evernote. Here is my six-step plan for managing all those business cards:

1. First, open an Evernote account. The basic plan is free.

1a. Download the app to your handheld device. The iPad app that I use rocks.

2. When you receive a business card from someone who you want to – or might need to – contact again, simply snap a pic of the card with your digital camera/smartphone.

3. From your smartphone/iPad/modern digital camera, simply email it to Evernote. Once you set up your account, you are provided with a special email address to where you can send virtually anything for safe keeping in Evernote, on the cloud.

4. Then, tag the image of the business card in your Evernote account with relevant keywords. [Note: my iPad enables me to do this on my Evernote app, so I don't have to wait until I am back at my computer to complete this process.]

4a. I tag each business card in “Business Card File.” That way, when I am in my Evernote account, I can pull up ALL business cards. Just in case I want to see them all, or I can’t remember a name, and I want to scan them all…

4b. I tag each card with the person’s name. That way, once in your Evernote account, I can simply search for the person, and anything I’ve tagged with their name will appear.

4c. You can also add a relevant keyword or keyphrase to that person’s card, marketing expert, SEO specialist, graphic designer, etc… That way, if you want to find all the marketing experts you know, you can pull those up easily.

5. Toss the card into recycling.

6. Then, when you need to, you can email the image to someone else if that’s helpful.

But Todd, will the Evernote image translate to my database? What if I want that person’s contact info on my phone?”

Great question. What I’ve discovered over years of dealing with business cards is that I rarely ever try to contact someone after I collect their card. Maybe one in ten. And honestly, for that one person? I hand enter their contact info in my Google contacts list.

Note: For all I know, Evernote has a means to move that data into a database, or maybe soon will. Will have to look into that.

So that’s it. Just a handy weekend tip on how to manage that gigantic pile of business cards sitting on the floor, filling a drawer, or in a shoebox in the closet (or all three). And a handy way to use Evernote if you were looking for a way to test it out…

Enjoy. What are some other ways you are using Evernote?

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My Weapons Of Business War

My Moleskins...

OK, so nearly every blogger I know does this exercise: publishes a list of the tools they use to perform their job.

So I will to. But not because I want to show off, or promote any particular product… Mainly because I want to leave behind a time capsule for myself and monitor over the years the evolution of the means by which I execute my work.

So here goes:

1. WordPress blog, with most on Thesis. Most of my blogs are on WordPress, such as this site, and here, here, and here. WordPress is solid, easy, reliable, and Thesis is good for SEO pop and customization. I can’t imagine a future where my web presence isn’t on these tools. But, that’s the purpose of this time capsule… ;-)

2. Tumblr. Although, I must say, my minimalist blog is here. And I am having a lot of fun with Tumblr.

3. Google Docs – Probably the biggest change I have made in my tool set over the last few years is moving a lot of my data to the cloud. My database, my invoices, client memos, calendar, my management spreadsheets – are all housed on Google docs. I love the idea of being able to access all my stuff from any machine anywhere…

4. Google Wave. Lots of conflicting commentary about Wave on the social web. But this is a tool of growing importance in my world. As a home-based consultant who is frequently mobile, Google Wave is changing the way I work with vendors AND clients…the ones who get it. As far as a means of project collaboration, I cannot live without it.

5. Blackberry. Yeah, yeah, I’d love to switch to the iPhone, but I am on the Sprint plan from hell, and that contract expires in 2018. That said, I do love my Blackberry. And I just upgraded a few weeks ago to a newer model (Curve), and although the battery lasts only 42 minutes, I love the improved functionality and improved apps within it…

6. FlipCam Ultra HD. This is one of most important weapons in my arsenal. Video, and the ease of producing it, is becoming a much more integral part of how I conduct business.

7. Moleskine notebook. My moleskins aren’t my most important tool…but they are my favorites. And while I am moving more and more to digital, I will NEVER get rid of notebooks to jot down notes. Plus, I just look cool sitting in a coffee shop, writing in my moleskin… ;-)

8. Toshiba laptop – I am counting the days until I can retire this machine. And I have made the decision that I will switch to a Macbook Pro, probably sometime in the next few months.

9. Tumi briefcase. This is where I keep all my stuff when I am mobile. This is an over-the-shoulder strap briefcase (I’ve had it a while). Someday, I do think I will move towards a backpack…

10. Sharpie pens, fine point. Just. feels. so. good using these pens in my moleskin.

11. Google calendar, synched with my Blackberry. I love this tool. This calendar is where I manage my life. And the cool thing is synching it with my clients schedules to better manage our time.

12. RSS reader. The tool I cannot live without. This is where I do most of my learning. This is where I get ALL of my news. This is where I keep my finger on the pulse of the planet.

13. Twitter. My main means of connecting on the social web. The better I get and striking up conversations with people, the more enjoyable, and the most useful Twitter becomes.

13.5. Search.Twitter.com. My new most favorite search mechanism. I learn how to better use this every day. And it is changing the way I do business, and how I help my clients do business.

14. Facebook. I do enjoy connecting with people, prospects, and clients here.

15. LinkedIn. I will be honest in that this is where I spend the least amount of my time. That said, now that LinkedIn status updates can be fed into my RSS reader, my time spent here is picking up.

What tools do you use? What changes do you plan to make in your weapons of war?

14 Techie Things I Am Done Complaining About | You Should Too

I am fed up with people who bitch about technology and the social web all day long. People who complain about everything. And you know who I am talking about.

Me. [and if you thought I was talking about you, you're probably right too...]

But I am done. I am done complaining. Because I am realizing how great these things actually are, and while I appreciate that most of them are free, they are also making me a better businessman and a more intrepid marketer.

So, join me in appreciating these fine things. In fact, I am going to celebrate these every day. And thank my lucky stars that tools like this exist to help entrepreneurs like me…

1. I will no longer complain that Gmail is sometimes slow to send and receive emails. Come on, it is a “free” email service, that indexes emails and allows me to tag and easily find them when I need them. Even if the email dates from 14 months ago…

2. I will stop complaining that it takes YouTube a while to process videos. I mean, how dare they host my High Definition videos for free and provide another search engine where people can search and find information on me and my business…

3. I will stop whining that Vimeo takes 30 to 45 minutes to upload and process my “free” video uploads.

4. I will stop fussing about dropped cell calls. I can make calls, which sound pretty damn good, from my bed, from my car, from my radio studio, from the airport, etc… In fact, there is only one spot in all of Metro Atlanta where there is a vortex in the universe and I drop calls. But only one.

5. I will stop complaining that Google Docs isn’t 100% perfect. The fact that I virtually run my business using Google Docs for “free” notwithstanding…

6. And speaking of Google, I love seeing people fuss about Google Wave. Every day. ["too slow" is what I hear most] In fact, I hope they stop using it. Because I will have an unfair competitive advantage…

7. I will stop complaining that it takes FlipShare a long time to download my video clips, and an even longer time to process the “movies” that I make. I mean, really, I can produce a High Definition video clip, from a hand-held camera, in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee…

8. I will stop complaining that it takes GoDaddy a few minutes to accept changes to my Thesis WordPress websites. I mean, can you believe it takes 3 minutes for the changes to be reflected, instead of instantly?

9. I will stop complaining that Twitter sometimes has a system overload. I mean, it is quite frustrating that my ability to communicate with the entire world – for “free” – requires me to wait for sometimes almost 10 seconds…

10. And for those rare times when Twitter goes down? Don’t whine about it. Go create your own social network…

11. How dare Facebook have privacy issues. I mean, who do they think they are that I can connect – on a personal level – for “free” – with over 400 million people? The nerve….

12. I will stop fussing about my Blackberry, and how it occasionally operates very slowly and lethargically. Never mind that it has more computing power than Apollo 11, and that I can almost entirely run my business from this little thing…

13. I will stop complaining about how my GPS device, whether I am using my TomTom or my Blackberry, sometimes loses the satellite for a few minutes. I was much much happier when I had to pull over and unfold the map. That was so much more fun…

14. I will stop complaining about how Foursquare sometimes doesn’t let me “check-in” somewhere. You know…all these free social web apps are just getting more and more out of control… I just hope I don’t win the “whiner” badge…

I saw Chris Brogan give a presentation where he shared a story about his Trust Agents co-author Julien Smith, where Brogan said that whenever Julien meets a blogger, he greets them with “So what do you complain about?”

Julien is right. Us bloggers do complain about a lot of stuff. Even me. [I like to think that in my "complaining" I am trying to educate, trying to serve, trying to enlighten folks... but, you know...]

And I am not suggesting that our “reporting” isn’t important, and necessary. But I think we oftentimes go over the top. Sure, when a brand delivers poor service, for something you are paying good money for, I suppose it is fair to tell that story.

But to complain about technology that does amazing things – to complain about socialĀ  networks that do amazing things AND are free – to complain about the speed of things that weren’t even imaginable just a few years ago – is getting sillier and sillier. And I have been just as guilty as the next person…

So from here on out, I am celebrating these tools. And if you ever catch me fussin’? Call me on it…

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

The Last Full Measure, Memorial Day 2010

We remember our intrepid heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion to our country, and the cause of freedom.

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” | Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg

[pic from Just Add Light on flickr]

Welcome to the new Intrepid!

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Hello everyone, and welcome to my Intrepid upgrade!

I have long wanted to move my wordpress blog to a Thesis template, and finally got the switch done over the last few days. Am told Thesis really is a better platform for SEO, customization, and quality of site. Needless to say, I am very excited.

That said, I still have a few wrinkles to iron out. Transfers such as this will skew the formatting on some old posts that I will have to correct, and I have some lingering transfer issues with comments and such.

But we’ll get ‘em worked out.

In the meantime, as I get more serious about my blogging and the impact it is having on my marketing, it was time to raise my game to the next level. I still have much to learn about this process, and this new platform will provide me with a stronger foundation on which to build.

I am excited. I would welcome any feedback on the new design in the comments. Appreciate – as always – you stopping by!

Intrepid Email Subscriptions

I just discovered that the link to subscribe to receive email notices of new blogs posts was not working. My sincerest apologies.

I have corrected the problem. In the future, please notify me when you notice it isn’t working. And I promise to be more diligent in monitoring this in the future.

Thanks for your readership, and for your continued support of Intrepid!

Todd Schnick's Marketing Ten For '10

pic by joshua davis on flickr

pic by joshua davis on flickr

OK, so I’ve just finished reading my 38th blog post on predictions for 2010. And I have read 26 posts on trends for 2010. So, I guess as a blogger, it is my duty to report on trends and predictions for the coming year. I will do this too. However, I will combine the two. So here are ten predictions and trends for 2010 – in no particular order. Well, except for #10 [which is most important...]:

  1. Video will change everything. In fact, I predict that a majority of blogs in the next couple of years will become strictly video-based. As it becomes easier and easier to record, upload, and share quality video, people will jump on the bandwagon. The big question for 2010 appears to be “do it yourself” verses “hiring professionals.”
  2. There will be a continued focus on improving the overall customer experience. The significant growth in use and understanding of social media in handling customer outreach, means we will see more and more use of these tools. In fact, just listening and responding to customer complaints online is no longer unique. Be on the lookout for the next big idea.
  3. Social media, however you define it, will play an increasingly larger role with small businesses. It wasn’t long ago I read an article that said 76% of small business people saw no value in social media in terms of marketing their business. My prediction? That changes in 2010. Big time. And those who don’t figure out how to begin integrating it in 2010 – will be out of business in 2011.
  4. Personal branding will be more important than ever before. Since we are moving away from cubicle nation, and more and more people are going entrepreneurial, I expect there to be a larger push from the masses on a strategic utilization of modern tools to build their personal brands. And this commonly heard statement that “Facebook is for my friends only…” will start to go away too.
  5. Users of Social Media will achieve a better understanding of how to measure success and ROI. This is STILL the biggest mystery when it comes to the application of social media to business. How do you measure it’s success? How to I measure my return on investment. Since this question is asked one million times a day, I expect better and more articulate thought leadership on how people can get these questions answered. And I think the answer – the realization rather – will be different than most people expect…
  6. Sharing will become recognized as a marketing tactic. If you don’t know what I mean by sharing (certainly in terms of social media), then you probably don’t believe in or practice this approach to marketing. Yet. But you better figure it out, because that’s where all this is heading…
  7. There will be an explosion in mobile marketing. Yes, you will start getting marketing messages via text. And assuming you opt in for these, it will be the wave of the future. I am already exploring this for several clients. And I can only imagine the possibilities when more and more people get smart phones…
  8. More people will learn how to make money online. [Including me!] I am in the midst of building and soon launching my very first online product with High Velocity. And now that I am moving into that space, I am realizing there is a lot of advice and thought leadership on the subject. But with case studies and a lot of lessons already learned, I think the marketplace will refine how people can achieve success in this endeavor.
  9. Niche and passion marketing will finally be understood. Marketing thought leaders and teachers have been saying for generations that you must market towards a niche, and if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Nothing new here, other than I believe that the masses will start understanding this, and creating business opportunities for themselves around a passion. This naturally leads to marketing towards a niche. The modern tools are there to really capitalize on this, and I think you will see a new movement…
  10. People will begin to fearlessly JUMP, to dive in head first, to be intrepid, and take more risks. This attitude, this new way, is how you have to set yourself up to compete in the new world. People stuck in their shell, afraid to do anything wrong, will slowly fade away. I don’t mean that people will en mass begin to take silly, uncalculated risks. I just think people are beginning to realize they have to be a little less afraid to jump, and not be afraid of where they will land… What about you?

Veterans: We Salute You

The following video is very disturbing. It is a photo play from the HBO Miniseries Band of Brothers. I try to make it a point to put out video on Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year.

My purpose in showing this very difficult clip is to demonstrate two things: One, we are grateful for America’s servicemen and what they have done – and what they have sacrificed – to protect freedom throughout our history. And two, there is a lot of evil in the world, and sometimes, we have a duty – as freedom loving people – to stand and fight.

Thank you veterans, for all you have done.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Flt3B3QWmOo]

Giving Back – Not So Silent Style!

Give people HOPE!

Give people HOPE!

OK, you know how I am always talking about how giving back is good marketing? You have another chance to participate and make a difference in some one’s life.

And you could and should do it in the name of you and your company! This helps people – and makes you and your company look good.

There’s an event in Atlanta early December that will raise money for the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta and MUST Ministries. The event is the Not So Silent Night Holiday Bash!

Register for the event RIGHT HERE!

We look forward to having a great time AND doing some good all at the same time!

[Disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors for the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta]