We’re now reaching a point where technology is almost advanced enough to be able to detect what consumers are thinking better than they can themselves. That’s one of the things that spurred Tokyo-based Tomonori Kagaya to found Neurowear, a startup that’s preparing for a future where emotion-reading is accurate enough to deliver the right content to consumers at exactly the right time. READ MORE…
Because the only ideas you can have are founded on what you already know.
You can’t dream up things that don’t exist if you don’t already know about the pieces required to make them up.
This explains why ideas rely on a certain state of culture and readily-available resources to come to…
We are our greatest creative enemies.
When it comes to finding what we’re passionate about, becoming what we dream of, combating our demons, or doing any sort of work, the one thing that really stands in our way is ourselves.
Let’s say you want to become a writer, what do you do first?
Writer Leo Widrich offers a sneak peek at the next wave of productivity apps that top entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Guy Kawasaki are working with daily.
Recently something terribly obvious—yet powerful—occurred to me: If you want to achieve things that no one else has done, you need to do things no one else does.
So, I thought, who achieves things that very few do? I made a list of the top 10 entrepreneurs that I learn from daily. Then I thought, which things are they doing that could really help more people? When I emailed the idea to my Fast Company editor, she came back with something I found valuable:
“One of the problems that crops up is that a lot of people get back with “I love Twitter, Dropbox, and Evernote!” Those are great tools, but might not add that much value for our readers.”
I thought that observation was spot-on. So instead, I asked my favorite entrepreneurs their absolute favorite, yet very little-known tools, they use to achieve everyday tasks.
After lots of correspondences and digging deep into these entrepreneurs’ toolkits, here are their unedited answers:
Tim Ferriss’s top tool: Jumpcut
Tim Ferriss is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim is the master of finding unique lifehacks and techniques to help you live a smarter life. The one online tool he absolutely can’t live without is Jumpcut:
“I can’t live without Jumpcut, which saves my ass all the time. Have you ever cut and pasted two or three things, and lost a hugely important thing that you cut first? Jumpcut, which is free, allows you to store (and easily retrieve) 40+ copied or cut things from your clipboard.”
Michael Hyatt’s top tool: Clicky
Michael Hyatt is the New York Times best-selling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World and he writes one of the best blogs on leadership and productivity that I know. Here is his most treasured online tool:
“My can’t-live-without online tool is Clicky.com. It’s what I use to monitor up-to-the-minute stats on all my websites. It uses Google Analytics, but presents the data in a more useful manner.”
Jay Baer’s top tool: Buffer
Ranked as one of America’s top 5 Social Media consultants and author of Youtility, Jay Baer built an incredible following as one of the most reputable and yet hype-free people in the industry. And he stays on top with the best tools all the time; his choice is Buffer (which—disclaimer time—I’m the cofounder of. Thanks, Jay!):
“Directing people to what I believe to be the most worthy social and content marketing resources every day—for years—is how I built my business. Buffer makes that process of sharing information to audiences so much easier. I can read articles in the morning and add them to my Buffer. From there articles then get posted well spaced out over the day, automatically.”
Hiten Shah’s top tool: Prismatic
One of my favorite tech entrepreneurs is Hiten Shah, cofounder of KISSmetrics, who, if you follow his Twitter feed, constantly inspires with amazing content. The one tool that he said he can’t live without is Prismatic:
“I love to find and share awesome content. Prismatic has made it easier for me to find the best content faster. Now with Prismatic, I don’t have to go to dozens of places to find useful, informative, and awesome content to share.”
Jason Calacanis’ top tool: 15Five
One of the most well-known entrepreneurs, Jason Calacanis has founded several companies to date and is now probably best known for his awesome ThisWeekInTV network. When I asked him for his favorite tool, he replied within a few minutes of sending the email without hesitation:
“15Five is my favorite app because it develops deep relationships on our teams quickly and efficiently. I liked it so much I asked to invest… and they took my money.”
Dharmesh Shah’s top tool: Pocket
There are very few people whose every step they take online I follow along with. Dharmesh, the CTO ofHubSpot, is one of them. He built a massive company with hundreds of people, and what helps him do his best work? He shared this:
“I love GetPocket.com. I’m easily distracted (I have “Hey look, interesting new article on the Internet!” syndrome). Pocket helps me stay focused by deferring things I want to read until later so I don’t break my flow.”
Seth Godin’s top tool: Keynote presenter view
Seth Godin, author of the most amazing books, and recently the Icarus Deception, writes a blog that is the only one I read daily. Asked for the one tool he he can’t live without, he said “the presenter view in Keynote, which shows me my next slide before anyone else sees it. I can’t imagine giving a fluid talk without it.”
Leo Babauta’s top tool: HackerNews
The infamous Leo Babauta writes the phenomenal blogzenhabits and is also author of multiple books. Whenever my day gets slightly too much, reading one of his articles for just a few minutes helps me clear my mind. So what helps Leo to get more inspiration and productivity? This:
“I use Hacker News for inspiration and ideas. I avoid most news sites, social media and other sources of information because there’s too much noise. But HN is curated by a smart group of users, has high signal-to-noise ratio, and is where new ideas and tiny startups are being tested at the street level, unfiltered by the media and mass markets.”
Rand Fishkin’s top tool: TINYpulse
Rand Fishkin is the CEO and cofounder of SEOmoz. Rand also gives some of the best advice for startups and businesses on his personal blog. When I asked him for his favorite, little-known tool, he had a great gem for you:
“One of my very favorite tools is TinyPulse. It sends a very short survey to everyone at Moz, asking two simple questions. It’s an incredibly valuable way to get honest, direct feedback about how things are going culture/team-wise.”
Guy Kawasaki’s top tool: Fantastical
Guy Kawasaki is a man who needs little introduction. He was the chief evangelist at Apple and has since then authored more than 10 books. When I asked him what helps him to keep up with his crazy schedule, this is what he came up with:
“Fantastical. Great way to see and edit your calendar without launching your calendar application and switching to it. Very smart, too: ‘4/24 7 pm Meet with Leo’ would create an event.”
[Image: Flickr user Zechariah Judy]
What is your favorite productivity app and what would you add?
GitHub’s Code For Work Place Happiness
The Utopian workplace that is GitHub didn’t just materialize.
GitHub CEO Tom Preston-Werner is on the phone from San Francisco speaking with the cordial certainty of a professor. Halfway through our conversation, I read to him something he blogged back in October 2010:
At Github, we don’t have meetings. We don’t have set work hours or workdays. We don’t keep track of vacation or sick days. We don’t have managers or an org chart. We don’t have a dress code.
Things have gotten more sophisticated since then, he says. Founded in 2008 by Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett, GitHub’s grown from 10 people to 160. A Most Innovative Company, it recently received $100 million in funding at a $750 million valuation. And as a social network for programmers to share code—and the largest host of code in the world—it’s increasingly an integral part of the software that’s running the world.
GitHub acts like a cross between Wikipedia, Google Docs, and Facebook, letting programmers share code and, crucially, discuss the differences between builds. Preston-Werner says that when projects grow, managing complexity becomes the center of software development—making the decision of what code goes in where is more important than the code itself. By keeping the discussion close to the code, GitHub accelerates the engineering process.
But GitHub—like another social network—didn’t begin with the intention of becoming a company. It was a passion project that he and cofounder Wanstrath built on nights and weekends until it grew into their own company.
“We wanted to make GitHub a place where we wanted to work; that was part of the deal,” he says, noting that he and Wanstrath were coming from gigs with a lot of process, rigid departments, and inflexible job descriptions.“That’s what makes it interesting to us to build a company, not just the product that we’re building, but the company itself.”