I’m Co-Founder and CEO of Booktrack, a tech start up that adds movie-style soundtracks to eBooks (think music and ambient audio matching what you read).
We started here in Auckland, but we now also have offices in San Francisco, Toronto, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Working with teams around the world means that - for me - tech tools are absolutely essential to maintaining some semblance of sanity.
But even if you’re not bouncing around from one continent to another (and even if you’re not quite as much of a technophile as me!), your productivity will benefit hugely from keeping your tech tool box up to date.
Here are my top three recommendations:
1. My favourite apps (all free!)
Learn to love lists again with Trello. It synchs seamlessly across all your devices, and you can use it for simply keeping track of your basic “to-do list”, through to collaboration with your team…..heck, our devopment team runs their entire workflow on Trello. If you’re not using Trello yet, you really are missing out!
Next, get your head in the cloud and make sure you’re using Google Drive for all your file creation and sharing. It’s a super-powerful tool for collaboration that we use daily across multiple continents, all working on the same documents at the same time. You can access your docs on your smartphone, wherever you are. I remember being on a conference call in San Francisco while watching (in real-time on my smartphone) my teams in Toronto and New Zealand make changes to a document – amazing!
Finally, make sure your team are using a good chat and voice/video tool. We LOVE Google Hangouts. It’s great for exchanging quick messages while in the office or on the move - it works great on your mobile devices. Its real strength, though, is video conferencing. I recently had a two hour meeting with people in San Francisco, Toronto, Auckland, Hong Kong, Manila, Wellington, and New York, and we never once lost anyone from the call!
2. Hardware and devices
There are only two devices you really need – my whole life is pretty much on my laptop or phone.
For your smartphone, if you’re in the Apple camp, it’s easy - you just decide on screen size (big iPhone if you have a handbag, small if you don’t. Guys - stop trying to put that massive phone in your jeans pocket!).
There’s a lot of choice for Android, and we test a lot of these devices in our office. After trying out many of them, I think you really can’t go past the Google Nexus 5 and 6 phones. The main reason is that it’s straight naked Android - no bloat-ware pre-loaded from those pesky tech companies. If you’re an iPhone user and looking for a change, give a Nexus a try. You’ll be surprised – it’s not better or worse, just refreshingly different!
For laptops, I just got the new MacBook and it is truly awesome! The new keyboard is amazing and the small size and light weight (but still with Retina display) is brilliant for travelling or moving about town for meetings. Make sure you have a monitor you can connect it to when you’re in the office – you have the desk space, so use it.
Make sure you have a stylish laptop bag (lose the massive backpack!). I’ve used this great Oroton Flat Satchel bag for the last four years (make sure you always carry the full set of projector/screen adaptors in it).
Finally, always get a local sim card so you can keep connected when travelling internationally – keep that FOMO under control!
3. Must-try item
A mobile bluetooth headset – don’t be shy! Yes, your co-workers will take great delight in reminding you of the new appendage to the side of your face, but it’s totally life-changing. No more tangled cords from crappy earbuds, and you can synch it to both your phone and your laptop for seamless calling or listening. I love that I can be listening to the latest sports results on my computer while speaking to a colleague on the other side of the room and still pick up a call my phone when it rings!
The best-in-class bluetooth headset is the Jawbone Era. It’s so light you forget you’re wearing it and the audio quality (very important to us at Booktrack) is amazing. So don’t worry about the new sci-fi look you’ll be sporting (the girls really dig it! honestly…) – up your comfort and efficiency with a shiny new bluetooth headset.
There you have it – the tech tools I couldn’t live without. What would you add to this list?