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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  • notesfromkris

    I’m already on board with exactly 50% of your selections; the others I will research some more. I’ve heard good things about Zoho; I use TeamLab for CRM + Project/Resource Management, not sure if Zoho can manage that as well. For print, I use local networking clients and instead of Moleskin, I use Cross (cool notebook came with the pen).

  • notesfromkris

    I’m already on board with exactly 50% of your selections; the others I will research some more. I’ve heard good things about Zoho; I use TeamLab for CRM + Project/Resource Management, not sure if Zoho can manage that as well. For print, I use local networking clients and instead of Moleskin, I use Cross (cool notebook came with the pen).

  • Todd Schnick

    yeah, the free version of Zoho is great if you do not want to spend anything on a CRM system…and carries most of the basic requirements expected from a CRM solution…

  • Jennifer

    Fantastic list! I also use CardMunch to digitize business cards, and I’m a recent convert to Highrise. I’ve been digging around and as far as I can tell, there’s no way to drag data from CardMunch to Highrise. How do you deal with this? Also, do you know of any good guides for Highrise? There’s seems to be surprisingly little out there in the way of tips & tricks.

  • Todd Schnick

    Yeah, I have not found a direct path from Cardmunch to Highrise, but you can have Cardmunch update your Google contacts, which can be uploaded into Highrise. As for Highrise guides, I am not aware of one, but have always found a YouTube video to teach me a few hacks here and there…

    Thanks for reading!