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Digital Innovation

Digital Innovation

This in-depth article from Boris Galonske explains how digitization helps improve resilience in commodity trading. “Commodity trading suffers from shrinking margins and in some commodity classes also from low price volatility. At the same time operating environments struggle with manual routines, legacy processes and systems resulting in high cost income ratios (CIR).   How can this challenge be addressed and how can the profitability and the resilience of trading businesses be increased? Situation today Commodity trading exhibits still several manual routines…
From his company blog, David Burnie shares the first article in a three-part series on the future of P&C insurance in Canada and how the sector is evolving within. The series explores distribution, pricing and underwriting, and claims. For many years, the insurance sector had been notoriously slow to evolve. Customers viewed insurers as difficult to do business with, while insurers saw little need for change. Products were largely commoditized. To “win,” many insurers had to form stronger relationships with…
If you are planning to start a blog or a newsletter or podcast or other form of regular content creation, it is worth taking time up front to articulate – at least to yourself – your objectives. It is easy to get distracted by metrics such as number of views or downloads, when those may have no relation to the reason you decided to create content in the first place. For example, if your primary goal is to build relationships…
I’ve worn glasses since 9th grade. My corrected vision has always been fine. Then three years ago, age 47, I was experiencing serious eye fatigue when working on the computer. I couldn’t keep the text in focus. Over the course of a year, seemed like the problem was gradually getting worse. I thought: “too much screen time, too much blue light.” Finally I visited the optometrist. She gave me a prescription for intermediate lenses, designed for looking at a screen…
Develop expertise. Become the best in your niche. We often hear that advice, and I’ve probably said it a few times. Well, there’s also value in becoming BAD at something – particularly considering the incremental value per unit effort. Example from chess: If you have never played before and don’t know the rules, you are not even bad at chess. You are level 0. When people talk about the game, you have no intuition at all of what chess feels like. Now let’s…
  Jim Klass shares a downloadable PDF that provides insight into the current disruption of the food industry with examples on how to use technology to improve cash flow and remove friction in the supply chain.  Foodservice has changed… A new Model is needed, one that creates value for all partners in the supply chain Consumers will demand transparency, cleanliness and a frictionless digital experience Operators must maximize each guest interaction their menu, and even their unit layout must change…
Here’s a set of 100 tips for a better life published by Ideopunk on the blog LessWrong. Check the link for the full list.  #100 is a good reminder: “Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavour to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world.”…
The end of the year provides a good occasion to reflect on what went well and what could have been improved. And to set priorities for the year ahead. If you are looking for a template or set of prompts, here are five to check out: For the past week I’ve been spending a half-hour each morning writing responses to prompts in The Ultimate Annual Review, created by Steve Schlafman. Tara McMullin assembled this list of 30 Questions for Reviewing An Unusual…
You might check how your professional email appears in the inbox of recipients by sending yourself an email to a personal account. Some issues I commonly see: Instead of seeing the sender’s first and last name, just see the email address Sender’s first and last name are all lower case “first name” or some odd case “FIrst Name” What’s the impact? The sender looks just a bit unprofessional to every recipient Adds a stumbling block when recipients using an iPhone…
I used to start writing an email by first adding all the email addresses. And then, once, I accidentally hit ‘Send’ on an email to clients when the email was still very much in draft form. New habit: Write the email first, polish it, review it: and THEN add the email addresses as the last step….
On several occasions recently, well-qualified consultants didn’t get a project because, in the initial call with the client, the consultants spent too much time talking about their own experience. Consultants may ask about our experience. But they actually don’t care about our great case examples. They care about their problem. If clients do ask, “Tell me about your relevant experience in the widget industry,” try responding with a question instead of answering. “Sure, happy to discuss some related work I’ve…
  Marcia Nuffer shares an article that highlights the pros and cons of learning online. Online learning can be, and should be, as addictive as the other technologies we use. We are addicted to technology.  Multiple studies say we check our phones between 50 and 80 times a day. Millennials up to 150 times.  Sure, 90% of that is probably checking the time, using social media, and taking selfies.  But a good part of that time is also used to…
  I got this tip from my son’s friend, who is staying with us at the farm for a week (after a negative COVID test.) Izzy pulled his laptop for schoolwork out of his bookbag and then pulled out this 15.6 inch portable LED monitor to serve as a second screen. The monitor – about the size of a Macbook – fits into a convenient carrying sleeve. At home I’ve got two 27-inch monitors, but I’ll admit – I was not aware that…
A new service that we’re offering to members – custom LinkedIn sourcing. How it works: You let us know a set of criteria to filter on and the fields you’d like to get, and we’ll create a Google sheet with LinkedIn contacts, as in the example above. A few use cases for this service are: 1) Business development – get a list of execs in your target niche 2) Identifying experts to interview for a project 3) Due diligence: identify…
You can hire a college-educated full time employee – 40 hours per week –  based in the Philippines for ~US$400 – $800 per month. Consider what you could achieve with that leverage. The best site that I’m aware of for hiring a full time employee in the Philippines is onlinejobs.ph. You pay a flat fee of $69 per month to post a job and review resumes. You can hire employees directly without going through the site, and once you’ve found someone,…
There’s a certain magic in starting. We may have the idea for a bold new initiative, think about it for months, making no progress. Setting aside one hour, we get started. And then, the universe conspires to bring the project to fruition. This Sunday, many of us will get a free hour when we turn back the clocks. Some ideas for what I call Start-Something Sunday: 1. Register a domain for that new company you’ll start 2. Sign up for…
Thanks for Margarita Soto for obtaining this new benefit for Umbrex members: I’ve found Transferwise to be the best way to send or receive funds when a currency exchange is involved. If I receive an international wire transfer via my bank, they charge a hefty fee – not as an explicit line item, but built into an unfavorable exchange rate. If I receive the same payment via Transferwise, however, I end up with ~2% more funds received. And when I’m…
Julia Cameron introduced the concept of morning pages in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. The idea is simple enough: every morning, within forty-five minutes of waking up, you sit down and write whatever comes into your head, for roughly fifteen minutes. It is not intended to be a journal. You aren’t intended to ever read the entry again. Just write. Many people have reported making stunning personal and creative breakthroughs after…
  Mekko Graphics is a plug-in originally developed for Bain that enables consultants using Excel or PowerPoint to quickly create compelling and insightful charts that go far beyond the standard built-in options. Seriously, check out this PPT deck with 250 beautiful charts. David Goldstein, one of the Founders of Mekko Graphics, gave me a demo of the product, which you can watch as Episode 333 of Unleashed, or on Vimeo….
As knowledge workers, each one of us is running our own knowledge factory, but school and most workplaces teach us to run our ‘factory’ more like an artisan’s bespoke workshop, with each knowledge product we ship lovingly hand-carved and made-to-order. Last Friday I shared the productivity lessons I learned from taking Tiago Forte’s course Building A Second Brain. In case you missed it, here is a recording. (To see subtitles* when watching the video, click “CC.”) I’d encourage you to check…
I dictated this section and had it transcribed with the otter.ai app.  I haven’t fixed any typos, just added line breaks Otter is a very powerful. Artificial Intelligence transcription tool. That’s very affordable for just $10, a month, you get 6000 minutes of transcription, that works out to .16 cents per minute. Here’s three ways you can use it. Number one, when you’re out and about. You can leave yourself a voice memo, and have it transcribed and email to…
I’m loving Airr, a podcast player app that allows you to highlight and share clips from podcasts. When you are listening to a podcast and hear something you’d like to save or share, you just click a button. By default the app selects a 45 second clip surrounding that point in time. You can adjust the start and stop point, and then title the clip. Some of the more popular podcasts include transcripts.  You can click on the transcript and jump…
Do you find yourself reading books with amazing insights that you expect will transform your thinking — and then six months later you can’t even remember what the book was about? Happens to me all the time. I just signed up for an account with Readwise, which aims to address this problem. Readwise sends you a daily email with text that you have highlighted when reading Kindle books, so you can review the passages you previously captured. The tool also allows you to automatically…
You can use IFTTT (stands for “if this, then that.”) to connect many common applications with one another. No coding required. E.g., I used this applet to send all my Instapaper highlights to my Evernote account. For more advanced integration options, check out Zapier….
This tip is from an exercise we did last week in Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain course. Write down your twelve “favorite problems” and save in your notes app or desktop or some place you’ll see regularly. The idea being: by writing them down and reviewing periodically, your mind will be working on these problems in the background. Here are some examples from those shared by participants in the course: How can I spend 75% of my time doing work that…
LinkedIn launched a feature in July that lets you show people how to pronounce your name. If anyone has ever been unsure how to pronounce your name, consider taking thirty seconds to add the pronunciation to your profile. Just open the LinkedIn app, click to edit your profile, and click on the banner….
Another recommendation from the Building a Second Brain Course: save articles and long newsletters to a read-later app. This allows you to avoid distractions throughout the day and schedule focused reading time. I’ve set up auto-forwarding filters for the newsletters I subscribe to. The two leading apps are Instapaper and Pocket. They have similar functionality. This Medium article can help you choose….
I’ve tried using a digital task manager in the past, but gave up. My list of to-dos was unorganized and became unmanageable. For the last five years, I’ve used a notebook, writing a new task list each day, by hand. I do like the physicality of the paper, but I often lose track of longer-term action items. On Saturday, I set up a Todoist account, and it feels like a massive weight has been taken off my shoulders. The key…
If you – or your client – ever needs to verify that a set of emails are valid, Neverbounce is a useful tool. I recently used it to validate a list of 2,700 emails.  Simple to use. I uploaded a CSV file and within a couple minutes Neverbounce tested them all and identified 21 emails that are no longer valid. Cost: $40 buys you credits to test 5,000 emails….
This free course launched last Friday and so far 1,874 people have signed up for it.  About four hours of video content. I went through 85% of the course videos over the weekend and highly recommend it to anyone who is – like me – new to Twitter and trying to figure out how to use Twitter (and not be used BY Twitter.) Sign up for the course here: https://join.oliviercantin.com/…
A few workshops that look awesome. I’d do all of these if I had the time. The Marketing Seminar:  “An Akimbo workshop for marketers who want to grow.” Registration for the next session starts September 15. Also check out the other workshops run by Akimbo, founded by Seth Godin. Building a Second Brain: “Helping people save their best ideas, organize their learning, and dramatically expand their creative output.” Enrollment for the next cohort is open now through August 24. Write of…
Last Friday I shared tips on what to put in an email when you respond to project opportunities – either a direct client inquiry or with an intermediary. You can view the recording of the webinar here and download the slides here….
  These shortcuts are handy for anyone using Google Calendar. Not shown at left: 6 –> Full year view Other shortcuts are here. Five minutes that can save hours: Whatever product you use, try doing a search for ” keyboard shortcuts”…
While 170,000 companies are using Airtable, I only just heard of this tool, from Kim Calichio when we recorded Episode 310 of Unleashed. She and her team have been using Airtable to manage a volunteer-run effort that is feeding 700 families per week in New York City. The Airtable website calls itself “part spreadsheet, part database” – looks like a powerful tool worth learning about….
Several members who could not join live asked for the recording of the July 23 webinar I did with Sree Sreenivasan and Dorie Clark on how to build relationships using LinkedIn. Sree is a leading thinker on the use of social media, and he has given training on social media around the world.  He has been the Chief Digital Officer of New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Columbia University. Since the pandemic started he has been leading a daily live call…
All of a sudden I’ve been hearing about Mural, “a digital workspace for visual collaboration.” While they’ve been around since 2011, have 100 employees, and received $23M in funding in January 2020, seems like COVID has been driving their growth as more people work remotely. Check out the 100+ visual facilitation templates for everything from workshop planning to storyboarding to service blueprint….
On Thursday, July 16, from 12-1 p.m. I’m leading an interactive discussion to cover eight ways to find a job during the pandemic. Primarily targeted at recent grads of college or B-school.  Non-recent grads welcome too. If you know someone who is looking, please feel free to share the link to register: https://bit.ly/eightjobs Also: if you have ideas on how to find a job during the pandemic, please let me know. (I’ve come up with seven.)…
This weekend I’ll be working on my mid-year review. Above are some prompts for reflection, from a tweet by Steve Schlafman. Tiago Forte published his mid-year review – it is inspiring….
Consider setting up an ongoing program of sending connection requests on LinkedIn to build your professional network in your niche. This is in addition to sending connection requests to all the clients you work with and others whom you interact with. Steps to do this: Decide on the profile of the person you’d like to connect with. Develop a reason for individuals who fit that profile to connect with you. Also note that, counterintuitively, some people may be more willing…
In case you missed the webinar last week on how to write a consulting proposal, here is a recording. Here are the slides. Here is a proposal template in Word….
If you are looking to get business insurance, check out this episode of The Umbrex Guide to Setting Up Your Own Consulting Practice. This episode includes an overview of 33 different types of business insurance that independent consultants may consider purchasing….
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Igor Buchatskiy.  Igor is a Managing Partner of BGlobal Capital. Prior to joining BGlobal, Igor has run large farming companies in all the major sectors of agriculture – animal husbandry, row crops and sugar production – and worked as a consultant specializing in Strategy, Operational Improvement and Digital Innovation for McKinsey & Co in Brazil and for Bain & Company in CIS. Igor has also co-founded an FMCG company that today is the leading producer…
As an independent professional without the infrastructure of a large firm we need to build our own virtual team. Section 4 of The Umbrex Guide to Setting Up Your Own Consulting Practice has 13 videos on this topic, with tips on how to find: Administrative Assistant Bookkeeper Tax Accountant Attorney Insurance Broker Remote IT support Research support…
Recommended if you’ve got some time available: In 2009 I curated all the digital photos the family had taken during the year and made a 100-page, 11″x14″ photo book. Since then, I’ve made it an annual practice, and for the total joy received it has been one of my best time investments (30-40 hours each year to curate 20K digital photos down to ~200-300). With changing digital formats and changing platforms, digital photos are evanescent. Unlikely your grandkids in 50…
Recommended pandemic activity: record family history. Every Sunday morning for the past nine weeks, I’ve recorded an hour-long call with my dad. So far we’ve covered his time in elementary school, high school, college, the Army, grad school, meeting my mom, his professional career as a nuclear engineer, and my childhood. You can hear the most recent discussion, on his second career as a handyman, which he enjoyed a lot more than designing fuel for nuclear power plants. Some of my…
One aspect of in-person meetings that I’ve missed in the age of the videoconference is the ability to stand around a whiteboard and brainstorm. This week I discovered that Zoom has a whiteboard feature built in. You need to enable the annotation feature (instructions here). If you’re on the Zoom on your laptop, you can join the Zoom with your tablet and then click Share / Whiteboard, and you’ll be able to draw with your finger or tablet pen. You…
Hacking is up during the coronavirus pandemic. In Episode 263 of Unleashed, information security consultant Gary Chan explains 12 action items to enhance your information security. You can download the graphic above along with a summary sheet on Gary Chan’s website….
If you don’t have an estate plan in place already, PLEASE get one drafted up, now. The ROI is dramatic: Attorney’s fees to draft up a full estate plan including a trust, power of attorney, health care proxy, all the guardian designation documents: ~$5,000. Cost to go through probate if you don’t have a trust when you die: ~5-10% of your estate, plus all assets tied up for 9-12 months. In Episode 250 of Unleashed, trust and estates attorney Maureen…
The past week, I’ve published five episodes with ideas on how to stay productive when a project gets delayed. In Episode 235, Mark Williams, aka ‘Mr. LinkedIn,’ provides advice on updating your LinkedIn profile. Mark is the host of the podcast Linkedinformed, which is one of my favorites. In Episode 236, I discuss how I use Evernote as my external brain. Evernote is a note-taking app on steroids. In Episode 237, I discuss MixMax, which gives you email superpowers (if you use Gmail or G-Suite.)…
Last week I asked for recommendations in intelligence firms. Here are firms recommended by members of the community: Enroute  Grata Data  Factiva Feed CB Insights; Competitive Intel Platform Roc Search Ducker Frontier Crayon Klue…
A few weeks ago I asked the community for recommended M&A data room tools.  The most frequently recommended tools were: iDeals Virtual Data Rooms  Firmex Intralinks Deal Room Merrill Datasite Other tools mentioned once or twice include: efileCabinet, Google Drive, eRoom, Opentext, SharePoint, Box, Citrix, Deal Room, Client Access, Sharefile, Salesforce, P Cloud, DocSend, Ansarada, MS Teams, BCMS Additional Tips: Utilize tools to restrict the most sensitive information to “view only” — no printing or downloading. Remember, there is no requirement to put information in a data room, and sometimes the best way to share…
In the first 20 seconds of this 35-second video, the man in the bench is singing alone. Then one person – hard to tell who – joins him around 0:22, and within 8 seconds the whole crowd has joined in. To be a leader, you don’t always have to go first. It takes courage and leadership to be the first follower. I once read (can’t remember where) a post making this same point, illustrated by this fabulous 3-minute video titled “Sasquatch music festival…
If you are looking to raise your visibility by appearing as a guest on podcasts, one approach to getting booked is to do the work yourself: identify podcasts that could be a good fit, reach out to the hosts, and pitch yourself as a guest. A more expensive but more efficient approach is to hire a podcast booking agency, such as Interview Valet. Those agencies typically charge a recurring monthly fee that works out to about $400 per podcast booking. Another…
A friend who is the CTO at a public company told me he has been using Superhuman, and it makes him 3x more productive on email. I just signed up to test it with my Gmail account….
David A. Fields returns to Unleashed in Episode 221 to share tips on how to increase the conversion rate of leads into opportunities. Hear more of David on Episode 1 (how to win clients), Episode 170 (how to make outbound calls), Episode 172 (how to set up your CRM system), and Episode 190 (on successful consulting partnerships.) And of course sign up to get David’s weekly blog posts….
You know something that someone, somewhere, wants to learn. Consider creating an online course to share what you have to teach. In Episode 220 of Unleashed, Umbrex member Paul Millerd discusses how he has created several online courses. Paul’s StrategyU teaches basic consulting skills. His Carve Your Own Path course takes you on a journey to reimagine your relationship with work, launch creating projects, and redefine ambition. Follow Paul on Twitter @p_millerd…
What are three things that you are really looking forward to the most? Source…
When you are meeting for the first time with someone new at a company you are serving, what do you say? I used to take up the first five minutes of the conversation by force-feeding the person with a summary of the project. Now I start with: “What have you already heard about this effort?” In Episode 215 I explain why I find this question so valuable….
In Episode 213 of Unleashed, I share tips on how to source expert interviews for your projects, both through expert networks as well as how to find them yourself. (Here’s a transcript for those who prefer to read rather than listen.) The episode includes tips on: Using an Upwork researcher to create the target list for outreach How to reach out and make the interview request on LinkedIn How much to pay an expert Benchmarks for response rate you should expect Pros and cons…
Great source for holiday cards (or other printing needs): NextDayFlyers. Far more economical than Shutterfly or other consumer brand You get complete artistic control and don’t need to use some pre-existing template No Shutterfly logo NextDayFlyers would be primarily for U.S. customers.  What are your recommendations for customers in other countries?…
Ever need to store your bags for a few hours while traveling? BagBNB is like AirBNB for your bags. As an example, this map shows locations currently available to store bags near Times Square – just $6 per day per item….
Canva is a fun design tool that doesn’t require a weeklong class to get started.  I downloaded the app yesterday and in 5 minutes had created my first Instagram-style post (above). The tool has templates for infographics, proposals, invitations, certificates, tri-fold brochures, menus, letterheads, tags, tickets, gift certificates and a couple dozen other categories….
If you are organizing an event where more than ten people will show up, it is nice to provide name badges. These are the best I’ve found. They’ve got magnets that go inside your shirt. No annoying pins or clips. If you re-use the name badges, you can buy these insert refills….
A client asked for some advice on reducing accounts receivables balances, and as a problem-solving tool for his team, I put together the above checklist (download here), mostly based on my own experience of collecting on invoices over the past 11 years….
When kicking off a project, particularly one that involves a broad set of stakeholders, you’ve probably created one-page initiative charters. You can download a PPT of the above version here….
At a breakfast with company founders last week, we shared favorite tech tools. Michael Cherkassky recommended DocSend, and half the table seconded the recommendation. DocSend allows you to: Securely share large files Keep track of who has opened them Get alerts if the document is forwarded Get page-by-page analytics on where people spent time Make edits to the doc after you send it Auto-expire documents or turn off access at any time…
Recap emails: A five-minute investment that dramatically improves the effectiveness of meetings and the client experience over the course of a project.  Further thoughts on Episode 203 of Unleashed….
In August I recorded 70 short videos for a course on how to set up a consulting practice. I will get them all edited and available online within the next month or so. Stay tuned. I just got the first video back from our editor and would love your feedback on the design. In this episode, I suggest that independent professionals discuss with their significant other and agree up-front on their vacation policy….
When 1.5 billion humans are already using WhatsApp, I recognize that this barely counts as a tip. Nevertheless, I’ve interacted with members of the community who still haven’t signed up. WhatsApp is handy for making free international phone calls. For cases where the other party doesn’t have a WhatsApp account, it is useful to also have a Skype account, of course. Beyond WhatsApp and Skype, what tools do you use to make international calls?…
Here is a sample proposal template that I’ve successfully used to win dozens of projects. You can download a Word version here. A friend sent this template to me 11 years ago and it has served me well. Sometimes, a project needs a horizontal PPT-style proposal that takes a lot more work.  Knocking out a proposal in this vertical format, however, generally takes me about half an hour. Section headings: Project context Objectives Scope Approach Team Timing Professional arrangements Use of…
It takes about three minutes to set up 2 Step Verification (2SV, also called Two Factor Authentication), and the simple step is one of the most important things you can do to keep your email account from being hacked. Chances are that a) You know you should turn on 2 Step Verification and b) You haven’t done it yet Why not do it now? It’s OK, this email can wait. Here are links to common services: Google services Microsoft account…
The last four clients I’ve spoken with have all asked independent consultants to provide a sanitized sample of work.  Consultants without a sample deliverable are definitely at a disadvantage. Is everything you’ve ever done so confidential that there is no way you can sanitize it? Then take a free day, hire yourself, and create a sample deliverable, outside in, e.g.: Is your focus M&A? Then pick a recent publicly announced merger, and prepare the strategy document that you would have shown to one of…
Sending a handwritten note to a client is a nice touch, whether after an introductory call: “Such a pleasure to meet you; looking forward to exploring ways for us to support your Asia growth initiative.” or at the end of a project: “So pleased to hear that the Board approved the recommendations you presented….” Having a stack of handsomely-designed correspondence cards (plus envelopes and stamps) on hand helps overcome the activation energy that this extra step of client service requires….
The chart is from The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors, by Matthew O. Jackson, a fascinating survey of academic findings on how we are affected in all sorts of ways by the people with whom we are connected. To me, the book reinforced the core mission of Umbrex: To provide opportunities for top-tier independent consultants to connect with one another.  And the book inspired this week’s tip: Connect on LinkedIn with other members of…
If you haven’t created a company page for your firm on LinkedIn, please do so – it is worth the five-minute investment of time, making a profile look more professional.  Here’s the instructions….
Even if you have automated and shifted from physical mail to electronic delivery as much as possible, some important communications still come in hard copy via the postal service. If you are away from home for a stretch of time and live in the U.S., the United States Postal Service has a nice free feature called Informed Delivery (not available in all zipcodes.)  When you sign up, you get an email every morning with an image of the outside of all the…
What have you found to be the best way to send or receive funds internationally, when the transfer involves a currency exchange? When I found that my bank charges a currency exchange fee of nearly 3%, I started using OFX, where the fee is under 1%.  Several Umbrex members have told me that they use Transferwise, which seems like a more powerful solution. Note: the initial setup involves a bit of know-your-customer anti-money laundering administrative hassle, so if you anticipate needing one…
I received an email from LinkedIn on Tuesday letting me know about a new feature: Here is the text of the email: “Today we’re piloting a new product dedicated specifically to business owners and freelancers: Open for Business. This new feature will enable you to showcase the services you provide on your profile, so that you and your business can be found in search on LinkedIn. From there, potential new clients can reach out to you for free — it’s as…
Audacity is a free audio editor that does a lot of the basics pretty well….
I had the Chase Sapphire credit card for about a year before I bothered to get Priority Pass, which is one of the included benefits but requires an extra step to sign up. For me, the Priority Pass membership alone justifies the annual fee for the Sapphire card, with the free access to lounges in nearly every airport. around the world. When I travel with the family, I’ve never had a problem getting the whole crew admitted for free. (In fact,…
There’s plenty of apps to read, review, and mark up PDFs. I find LiquidText particularly elegant. It’s the closest digital tool I’ve found that feels like I’m reading and writing on printed pages. You can highlight and make annotations on LiquidText – but that’s not what makes it great. My favorite feature is how you can pull out selections, organize notes, and add comments in one place from multiple documents. LiquidText is currently available on the iPad. It should be available for Microsoft within the year….
Margarita Soto has been a fan of Scribd for years; I’m a late adopter. Pay one monthly subscription and you get unlimited access to their library of books, audiobooks, and magazines….
Sarah Sonnenfeld loves Tripit, a tool that “makes sense of all your travel plans and creates a single itinerary for every trip.” 1. Forward your confirmation emails 2. Get a master itinerary 3. Download the app…
At Top Tier New York last week, at one session we discussed favorite tech tools (thanks to Sarah Sonnenfeld for facilitating.) For a SaaS project management tool that can be shared with clients, several members recommended TeamGantt….
Michael Zipursky surveyed consultants on how they market their practice; you can check out the results here. I interviewed Michael on Episode 120 of Unleashed. One stat: 41% said making outbound phone calls is the marketing activity they dislike the most. (On Episode 170, David A. Fields shared his advice on how to make outbound calls.) How do you market your practice? What has worked? What have you tried, but didn’t get any traction?…
Feedly is an app I love to discover and then follow blogs. The discovery tool is great: enter one blog that you’d like to follow, and then the app suggests a series of other blogs on the same topic that you might also like. Some of the favorite blogs in my feed are (and I don’t agree with all of them. Part of my goal is to regularly read writers I disagree with, to challenge my thinking) Marginal Revolution Kottke Stratechery…
I believe that hosting a podcast is such an amazing opportunity for independent professionals. A single activity that allows you to simultaneously: Build relationships with your guests (potential clients) Learn something Raise your visibility / build credibility in your chosen niche In case you missed the “How to start a podcast” session last Friday but wanted to attend, we recorded the session, and here is the video. And you can download the PDF of the presentation here….
A listener of Unleashed asked for advice on how to set fees, and I shared my thoughts in Episode 174. I’ve added that episode to Unleashed Essentials. In this episode I refer to, and strongly recommend, Chapter 22 of The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom, by David A. Fields. Novelist and Umbrex member Tim DeRoche emailed me two reactions to the episode: “First, I try to set my rate so that I *lose* maybe 10-20% of potential projects…
David A. Fields is hiring a Principal to join his firm, and I thought his approach is worth sharing, for anyone who is looking to grow their team. First, there is a detailed video explaining the position. Then an online application that sorts for those who are seriously interested. Pretty cool idea to have an in-depth video of the person you will be reporting to….
Gotta love a 2x2x2 matrix. Eden McCallum in partnership with London Business School did a survey of independent consultants and current consultants. A web version of the results is here. A different downloadable version of the results is here….
Outbound calls are one of the best ways to keep relationships strong and stay top-of-mind with decision makers. But making outbound calls – even to people in your core network – can be awkward. It helps quite a bit, though, if you have a plan for what you’ll say and how to steer the conversation. At the Top Tier events last year, one of the highest rated topics was David A. Fields sharing his approach to making outbound calls, including:…