LastPass – Using LastPass, I can login to any website with one-click (e.g. GMail, Facebook, WordPress). I chose LastPass because the app runs on windows, mac, and popular phones as an app. Plus, LastPass has a feature that enables me to share my logins without revealing the password with other LastPass users, plus an enterprise feature (i.e. a team account feature with analytics to track who logged in, where and at what time). LastPass has a free version, and the paid version is a massive $1 per month. A bargain if you ask me! If you are concerned about security, LastPass can do multifactor authentication via YubiKey—meaning to login to LastPass account, you need your password and the YukiKey in the USB drive..
Google Reader - Newspapers and magazines are old news, literally. Cutting-edge information is discovered through blogs. Since you don’t want to be checking multiple blogs everyday, using Google Reader is the way to go. Here is how it works: 1) you signup up to the respective RSS feeds you want to read, and 2) the posts get aggregated into one easy to review thread in Google Reader.
ReadItLater – The aptly named “worldwide web” is massive, without rock solid habits and tools to support you, it is all-too-easy to wander and waste lots and lots of time surfing the interwebz. So whenever I find something that looks interesting on the web, I click the ReadItLater icon in my browser and then get back to the work I have scheduled for myself. I review my ReadItLater bookmarks at a scheduled time twice weekly per week; a scheduled time with a clear start and end time.
Delicious - The concept of bookmarking webpages is the same as bookmarking pages in a book. Bookmarking segways well from ReadItLater. Unlike ReadItLater, which is for pages I want to review later. I use Delcious to bookmark pages / information I want to reference later. I curate my bookmarks, trimming them and regularly reorganizing my tagging system for faster recall.
GetAbstract – Information is expanding at an exponential rate. I needed a way to screen business books before I committed to both buying and reading them. Executive summary services were the solution. We also learn in layers and an executive summary adds another layer of exposure, and therefore learning to a given text. The issue, the summary quality from the services I tried was inconsistent, and the books I wanted didn’t have summaries in stock. I eventually found GetAbstract, an executive summary service that has a massive archive of business books—they have over 8,000 titles. The summary quality is also excellent. Plus, they are cranking out 50+ new summaries per month.
Shelfari - I needed a way to keep track of the books I plan to read, am reading, and have read. Plus, the books I own as well. As usual I signed up for a bunch of services and settled on Shelfari, who have since been bought by Amazon. Shelfari is more than a database, it is a community of readers who share their feedback and thoughts about books. I get ideas for new books to read from the book reviews in Shelfari and can research books I am considering reading in the same manner.
GMail, GDocs, and GCal – I left desktop-based email (Outlook) for GMail in 2007. I started using GDocs and GCal soon after. I can access my emails from anywhere on any device. I can even throw both my computer and mobile phone at the wall, buy new ones, and not even skip a beat (a reassuring feeling)–all my information is in the cloud. GMail’s search system also freed me from the cumbersome concept of folders, enabling me to read, reply or archive a message. I use Google Apps for my companies and clients, which is basically Google products masked to @yourdomain.com.
Dropbox – The service was called “GetDropbox” when I started using it. They were in the process of buying the domain Dropbox; I know this because I was trying to buy the domain name as well. Dropbox is the best way to backup your files. In fact, Dropbox transcends the concept of backup. Instead of backing up your files nightly, in essence creating a copy, Dropbox simultaneously synchronizes your files to the cloud. You can create shared folders with friends and coworkers, and any change to files on one computer will carry to all. You can even synchronize files between your desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. The best part, all the magic happens behind the scenes, seamlessly. If one of your devices crashes or you buy a new one, you just type in your Dropbox login and all your files will appear again. You can even generate links to files and folders in Dropbox, replacing any file sharing application you may be using.
Jing – Trying to explain things with words alone can be laborious and often frustrating. With this handy little tool, I can take a screenshot or screen recording of anything I can see on my screen. I can then save the image / video to my desktop or upload it to a web server and generate a link. Jing has a free version. The professional version I use, costs just $15 per year. With the pro version you can switch between your webcam and the screen when doing screen recordings. Jing is Camtasia’s little brother.
jiveSYSTEMS – This is one of my companies, my other one is AskFlywheel. jiveSYSTEMS is built for speed: recording videos straight from a webcam. Video emails sent through jiveSYSTEMS play on all popular devices, even Blackberry phones. You just hit record, stop, and send! We encode the video into multiple formats, create exit links for your call-to-actions, and give you heatmap and exit link “click tracking.”
Wisita – Video hosting for business owners; they offer a simple yet powerful video hosting platform. Wistia has powerful cloud encoders, so you don’t need to encode your videos into multiple file formats, just like jiveSYSTEMS. I use Wistia for videos that go on my landing pages, videos that I film and edit. Their heatmap analytics enable me to understand how my audience engages with my content.
MSI GT-R Series Laptop – When you are loading hundreds of web pages per day and working with pictures and video, you need a fast internet connection and computer. Those precious seconds when a web page is loading or a video is rendering, add up quickly. I am running an i7 quad-core processor, 12GBs of RAM, 1GB graphics card, 2 mechanical drives configured in RAID-0, and a SSD for my operating system. I have more horsepower than a premium desktop computer, crammed into my 15.4 inch laptop. MSI has been making internal computer parts for years as well. They have an excellent reputation with IT professionals and gamers, but little known brand with consumers, which means you purchase them for a bargain.
Logitech C910 – The webcams that are built into computers are junk, all of them. And for the mac users out there, a mac is a computer. I tested all the major webcams on the market, so far nothing can come close to the Logitech webcams. I used the 9000 previously, and upgraded recently to the new C910 version. The Logitech C910 webcam has right light and sound technology built-in, the webcam automatically adjusts everything for you. Other brands have similar technology but it doesn’t work as well. The picture and sound quality from the Logitech C910 is truly fantastic. I often use it for videos that go on landing pages or in blogs posts, and I would bet 80% of the people that watch my videos would think I was using a professional camcorder and mic.
MXL .007 Mic – When I record a podcast or webinar, I use the MXL .007 mic. Most people using standard computer speakers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between sound recorded on the Logitech and the MXL, the difference only becomes apparent when you have more powerful speakers–a fuller and richer quality of sound can be heard. However, unlike audio recorded on the Logitech, which is automatically optimized, audio recorded on the MXL requires some finesse—you wouldn’t take audio recorded on the MXL and publish it without performing noise reduction and some basic mastering.
WordPress.org - It is free, it is open-source, it is ubiquitous, and everyone and their uncle in the web business knows how to use it. Using WordPress you can build and manage websites and blogs, quickly and easily. All you need is a server that you can install the software on. There are plenty of pre-made themes you can buy for WordPress to give your sites a professional appearance. The best places to buy themes are: WooThemes and ThemeForest.
OptimizePress -Technically, OptimizePress is a theme for WordPress. I am listing it on its own because OptimizePress is a fundamental building block of my business. In fact, this entire website is powered by WordPress using the OptimizePress theme. You can build landing pages, sales pages, launch funnels with Facebook comments, and a blog using OptimizePress without touching a single line of code. As if that wasn’t enough, they have a video tutorial section that walks you through everything step-by-step.
StormOnDemand – Websites needed to be hosted somewhere safe and secure; preferably with 24/7 phone support and full-managed servers. StormOnDemand offers all of the above and more. The full-managed part means they will fix anything server-side that goes wrong, free of charge–a service that has saved me thousands of dollars. Let’s say a website gets hacked, one quick call to Storm and they will roll your site back to the last uninfected backup. They also offer best effort support of software that runs on your server, for example WordPress. Often times, when you are calling your web developer and getting billed $80 per hour, they are merely submitting a ticket to a server company like Storm, having them fix the issue, and then billing you for a couple more hours work.
Infusionsoft – I have been using Infusionsoft since late 2007. It is the backbone of my businesses. I was also one of the first group of people to become an Infusionsoft certified marketing automation coach. I use Infusionsoft to create web forms, follow-up sequences, process trials and orders, and also to manage all my prospect and customer data. For all intents and purposes, Infusionsoft is an all-in-one business management platform. Over the years Infusionsoft’s usability has improved tremendously and the system is more powerful than ever. For 90% of the small businesses out there, Infusionsoft is hands-down the best solution. Even if money was not an object, I would still choose Infusionsoft over the other systems on the market. Their new visual campaign builder is a game-changer for small business owners.