Dealing With Change

I spent an hour this morning writing a letter to a friend who is starting his first  business venture. One of the topics I wrote about is change. I have received 2 very wise pieces of advice on dealing with change in my life. They have saved me from unnecessary stress, so I passed them along.

The first piece of advice is to make important decisions in advance. You must anticipate the best case and the worst case. What will you do? When you make the decision ahead of time, you can respond with a decision you have already made with logic. When you don’t make the decision ahead of time, you will react to the circumstance with emotion. Take time to think about what you will do if you lose a specific employee, or your kid gets in trouble, or you get an opportunity for a deal that is highly profitable but outside of your core business. Responding is better than reacting.

The second piece of advice is change is inevitable. You must both expect it and cause it. You will never prevent it. I wake up everyday and acknowledge the truth that something is likely going to blindside me. This allows me to work through change–hopefully with a decision I have made in advance. I also pay attention to what is changing and work to change in preparation. So when the change shows up, I am not angry about it. I can accept it, and respond. I can focus on what I can control which is enough to be able to navigate the change.

Can the iPad Pro 10.5 replace a laptop for a small business CEO?

Since my first smartphone, the Palm Treo 650, I have been waiting for the killer device: one device that serves as my phone and computer without having to sacrifice capability. The major motivation is convenience and access. If everything I need is on one device that’s ultra portable, I’ll always have what I need to work when I need it.

While the iPad Pro is not that device, it does significantly reduce the amount of stuff and the weight of what I need to carry in order to work. Check out the photos in my last post about this topic to see a comparison.

I tried this experiment before when the original iPad Pro came out. I loved it, but I ran into one major issue. QuickBooks online was absolutely unusable on the iOS version of Safari. So, I ended up returning it. If it couldn’t be my primary “computer,” it was too big to be a secondary device.

Then, Apple released the 10.5″ size along with iOS 11. My interest piqued, and I decided to pick one up to see if the updates made a difference.

My original plan this time was to use iPad Pro 10.5 for 2 weeks. (If you want to read more about my motives for switching to the iPad to begin with, you can go read this post.) While I was not able to make a complete switch, I have been using the iPad Pro 10.5″ as my primary device for about the last 2 months with iOS 11. I say primary because there are still tasks that are impossible and others that are unnecessarily difficult to do without a regular Mac or computer. This post will go over what I like and dislike.

What I like.

I love the size. The portability of this device is incredible. When I put it in my backpack in place of my 13″ MacBook Pro, it feels like nothing is in my bag.

It’s very comfortable to hold as a tablet for reviewing reports, reading email, and taking notes (which I’ll cover later). If I need to type something I just snap on the keyboard, and I am good to go. The screen is plenty large enough for me.

It makes me focus. When I say the screen is plenty large enough. I mean it. Most of time, if I’m using a large screen, I have multiple apps open. I’m not focused on the task at hand. The limited space on the iPad means I am more likely to work on one task at a time. If I need to reference something the new split screen experience on iOS 11 is perfect. I just pull up the app I need, copy or drag-and-drop what I need, and then move the app out of my way.

Drag-and-drop is amazing. So is multi-selection. It’s so much faster to attach files to emails or Slack. It’s not quite “computer” fast, but it’s much better and more efficient than past versions of iOS.

Apple Pencil. This is the killer feature for me. I love writing by hand. I take tons of handwritten notes. I make sketches of new features. I make flow charts for processes and to think through problems and ideas. I have notebooks all over my office and home. I think more clearly with a pen or pencil in hand, but there are two drawbacks with traditional notebooks.Notes are stuck in a notebook. They are hard to find. They aren’t always with me. They are hard to search through.

Any writing I do by hand has to be typed up to turn it into a blog post, memo, email, etc. It’s extra work.

The iPad Pro plus the Pencil solves this. The new Notes app makes handwritten searchable. This is great. There is also an app called Nebo.

Nebo is amazing because it can turn my handwriting into text. Anything I write can be exported to any app that supports iOS sharing, or I can just copy the text and paste it wherever I want.

It forces me to be a better delegator. I don’t know about you, but there are certain tasks I use in order to hide from the work I should be doing.A CEO’s job is to set the vision, make sure the right people are working on the right things, and making sure there is enough money coming in to pay the bills.

Assembling reports, data entry, accounting, printing stamps, etc., these are task I should delegate. The reason they don’t get delegated is because it is easier to do them myself than it is to create a process and teach someone else. When that is no longer the case, or when it’s impossible, it’s a great reminder to delegate.

The keyboard is fast and comfortable. The 10.5″ model keyboard took a few hours to get used to because it’s smaller. Once I did, I noticed I was typing about 10 words per minute faster. The keys are closer together, but not uncomfortably so. They are also very soft compared to MacBook keyboards which leave my fingertips feeling sore.

The tablet format for sharing info in meetings. Two people looking at one laptop screen is awkward. Being able to hand an iPad for someone to review a document feels almost as natural as handing over a piece of paper. It’s a very easy way to share information.

The speakers. They are loud and clear which is great for video and music. I have found this has a great business application: conference calls. Since iOS allows me to make and answer calls from my iPhone on my iPad, I use it on speaker phone when I’m on a conference call with multiple people in the room. It’s clear and don’t get any complaints about echoes on the other end.

What I don’t like.

Websites serve mobile versions of their sites. This is not necessarily Apple’s fault, and I t’s something that has improved since iPads were first introduced, but it’s still annoying. With the screen resolution of modern iPads, there is no reason to serve a separate mobile version. Yes, I can request a desktop version when I load the page, but some sites still check for iOS and then serve an entirely different version.

Can’t access the file system. The new Files app is an improvement, but I still can’t move files around like I can on my Mac. Instead of moving something from Dropbox to my Desktop, I have to save a copy to Desktop and delete the original. It still feels clunky.

QuickBooks Online. Besides having a site that’s a chore to use on an iPad, QuickBooks Online still won’t allow me to export a report to Excel. I know this isn’t an Apple limitation because I have other services that allow this to happen, including my company’s software. So if I need a report fast, I have to wait on someone to get it to me, or grab my computer. Come on QuickBooks!

Battery life and re-charging. The battery has never lasted me the 9 to 10.5 hours Apple advertises. I get about half a day’s worth (4-5 hours) depending on what I’m doing. The real problem comes from the amount of time it takes to recharge. Being tethered to a wall is defeats some of the purpose of working on an iPad.

Conclusion

You can absolutely use an iPad Pro instead of your computer as long as you are willing and able to delegate. It comes with tradeoffs which you need to be willing to accept going in.

I didn’t get rid of my MacBook yet. I still need it for updating website code, editing audio and video, and working inside of QuickBooks. QuickBooks aside, I enjoy these activities and don’t want to give them up.

That’s why my iPad Pro serves as my primary machine, but not my only one. I do believe there will be a day when a version of this device will do everything I need and want it to do.

Leading Through Change

I sent this out for a customer email newsletter today, and I wanted to share it here too.


I hope this letter brings you some encouragement and perspective as you lead your teams.

I read a post from a guy named Ron Edmondson the other day that really struck me by how spot on it was. You can read it yourself here: http://ronedmondson.com/2017/10/7-tensions-you-can-expect-in-fast-growth.html

Ron is talking about fast growth in his post, but the same tensions come up any time our organizations are changing.

Change is inevitable. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s change we are driving, or change that that is happening around us. There is one major issue change will introduce every time if we do not lead well. That problem is negativity.

Change goes hand-in-hand with the unknown. And because we are human beings, our tendency is to fill in what we don’t know with negativity. We let fear take over and we can’t see around the gap. And when negativity creeps in, it spreads fast.

I remember reading somewhere that overcoming negative energy requires 10 times the amount in positive energy. I am not sure how scientific this is, but I still love the visualization. It begs us to ask the question, “How do we protect our teams from negativity to begin with?”

Here are my ideas.

Over-communicate. If we tend to fill in what we don’t know with negativity, we need to communicate what the gaps are. Tell your team when you don’t know, and let them know it’s ok to not know. We are human beings who have been created with an incredible ability to figure things out. It also helps to communicate that change brings about change, so everyone should be ready to adapt.

Assume the best. We should always assume the best and encourage our teams to do the same. If we fill in gaps with the benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to each other, we protect ourselves from unnecessary tension and frustration. We shouldn’t put on rose-colored glasses and pretend everything is perfect either…just don’t assume the negative when we really don’t know.

No gossiping. We define gossip as voicing frustrations to people who cannot solve the problem. When we complain to a peer we, are not actually working to solve the problem. We are only spreading negativity. We have an open door policy at Envoy. If one of our team members is frustrated, we want them to come to us or go to their boss. We want to hear them out. We want them to be able to vent. We want to fix the underlying problem. And doing this keeps the conversation focused on what can be done to improve the situation.

Understand what you cannot control. There is something freeing about being able to see a problem, to acknowledge that something just stinks, but still have the positivity, perspective, and peace of mind to know that we are in control of our decisions. Stephen Covey says this in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When we are in control of ourselves, when we are responding and not reacting, our outlook and ability to succeed under extraordinary circumstances is high.

Rest. There is only so much effective work we can do. Sometimes we have to dig deep and just get stuff done. And sometimes, we need to recognize we are too exhausted to be effective, and rest. We are more important than our work, and we have to take care of ourselves.

If you didn’t read the post I linked to earlier, you should. It will help you realize you are not alone in dealing with the tensions of growth and change.

iPad Pro After 2 Days

Can an iPad Pro with iOS 11 replace a laptop for small business CEOs. I am using one for 2 weeks to find out. Today starts day 3, and so far, I am pleased. Most of my work is easy to perform on this device, but there are a couple of things that still just don’t work. This is not a bad thing for my specific use case though. I’ll explain.

Mondays are heavy meeting days for me. I spent a lot of the day using the Pencil and taking notes. This isn’t really a new use for me since I’ve been using my iPad this way for several months. I spent the rest of Monday going back through my notes and sending memos to my team based on what we talked about. There are no limitations here, and split screen makes this really convenient.

One more thing to note. I am using the Smart Keyboard not the 10.5 model. Dependign on where you look you will will here very positive or negative opinions. It took me a little while to get used to the smaller size, but the Key travel feels very familiar since my MacBook Pro has a pretty shallow key travel. If you are sued to mechanical keyboards, this will feel very awkward. But, once I got used to it, I find myself typing much faster than I do on my full size keyboard. My fingers don’t have to travel as quickly. I also had to learn how to balance the device on my lap since I split my time working from a standing desk and a couch in my office.

On Tuesday, I spent all morning emailing customers before heading off to an industry trade show. The only problem is that I use Highrise for CRM, and the reponsive UI doesn’t scale well on the 10.5 screen. Sometimes when I would use the arrow keys to move around a text area, the cursor would move, but so would the whole page. It was pretty annoying. I left my iPad behind when I went to the trade show, and it was nice to basically have all my information and user experience on my iPhone. I didn’t feel like I was leaving anting behind. I do really wish Apple would make the pencil work on an iPhone. I am crossing my fingers.

The first real limitation I came across was QuickBooks Online. They will not allow me to export an Excel file from a report. I can export a PDF, but that does not help. Also, if the report renders wider than the screen, scrolling is virtually impossible. I almost pulled out my laptop to quickly get the file before realizing this was an opportunity to delegate. I pulled up Slack and asked my AP/AR clerk to pull the report and send it to me. Then I asked her to send that same report to me each week at the same time. While it is incredibly inconvenient to not be able to access something the moment I need it, being forced to delegate and systemize has the potential to save me time and keep me focused in the end.

To wrap up, here are the things I  like so far.

  • Portability. My backpack is so light, and I only carry one charging cable.
  • The keyboard. I am really getting used to it, and I love the short travel between keys.
  • Screenshot mark up. It’s so much faster than trying to describe changes I need to documents and images.
  • Drag and drop. This is the thing that made using an iPad too slow to use before iOS 11.
  • Pencil!
  • Being able to comfortably walk around my office with my main device. It’s so light and comfortable to use.
  • iOS 11 control center.

And dislikes so far.

  • Battery life. I am getting less battery life than I was getting before iOS 11. Granted it’s better than my MacBook Pro, but the MacBook charges faster. Plus, the portability of the iPad makes me not want to have it plugged in constantly like I do with my MacBook. I end up using a 29w charging block to kick it back to 100% during lunch. One more thing to note, if my device is in the 60% range, I feel like it is almost dead. Always be charging.
  • QuickBooks Online. This is not an Apple or iPad thing. They are just so slow to make updates and their native apps are so limited. Just serve me a desktop experience, and I will be happy!
  • Searching through handwritten notes in Apple Notes. It’s ok, but they still have some work to do. I am still using Nebo to hand write notes and then export the text to Notes.

That’s it for now. I am going to keep coming with periodic updates before doing a full write up at the end. Also, if you are in the facilities maintenance industry, I will have a separate review up over on my company blog, http://envoyfm.com/blog about the iPad Pro as a main device for Facilities Maintenance Managers.

iOS 11 on the iPad Pro

Apple released the GM build of iOS 11 last Thursday which I promptly installed on my iPad Pro. I have never been as excited about a new iOS release as I am for this one because of the productivity advancements it brings to the iPad. I have given myself some time to get acclimated to the changes, and now I am ready to do a couple experiments.

First…is the iPad Pro the perfect device for a small business CEO?

Second…is the iPad Pro the perfect device for a mobile facilities manager?

My computer is going away for 2 weeks while I make this happen.

I am obsessed with the idea of having one device to do everything. My dream device is a phone that connects to peripheral devices and is the central access point to all of my work, data, media, entertainment…everything. Yes, I know Microsoft and Samsung have this capability. All of the Microsoft devices are getting poor reviews as phones. The Samsung Galaxy devices seem great, but their are not enough apps for my workflow. I am keeping an eye on the Note 8 and Dex to see how that ecosystem evolves.

Back to iOS 11 and the iPad Pro. While this does not get be down to one device, it does reduce what I have to keep in my bag. Leaving my Mac, the power brick, and adapters behind means I have less to carry around.

I’ll go from this…


…to this…


Some other reasons I believe the iPad Pro can work as a primary device are:

  • The iPad Pro is super fast. It literally switches around from app to app as fast as my MacBook Pro does.
  • Charging from a portable charger.
  • LTE…internet everywhere without teathering.
  • There are apps for everything in my workflow. And the request Desktop version of websites feature will make the rest possible.
  • I am already used to and plugged into the Apple ecosystem so it’s comfortable and learning curve is low.
  • While I stil have 2 devices, iCloud and Dropbox keep everything synced up. Most of the Mac keyboard shortcuts work on an iPad.
  • The pencil. I take a ton of notes. I love handwriting, but hate it when something I need to remember is back at the office on a notepad.
  • While there is multitasking, working on an iPad forces me to focus on a single task because on app fills the whole screen.

The features of iOS 11 I am most excited about are:

  • Drag and drop files and photos. This is a game changer for the iPad.
  • Apple notes searches through handwritten notes.
  • Tap the Pencil on the screen to start a new note.
  • Document scanning…I love Scannable, but hate how it has to sync to Evernote. Now I can scan and sign inside of Apple Notes.
  • Marking up screenshots with the pencil.

Finally, my apprehensions upfront are:

  • QuickBooks Online. I tried this experiment with the 12.9” iPad Pro came out. That was the main thing that forced me to quit the experiment last time and return it.
  • Working in spreadsheets (Excel) when I have multiple documents to reference.
  • The small screen size. I am using the 10.5 for usability sake. The 12.9” is way too big to comfortably hold as a tablet, but the extra screen  area is nice.

I will try to post daily on thoughts about this experiment, so follow along or consider subscribing. There is a box in the sidebar that will make that easy.

Also, be on the look out for the final review about using the device as a small business CEO on this blog and using the device as a mobile facilties manager at my company’s blog, http://envoyfm.com/blog.

I’m Not Excited About The New iPhone

Seriously. The iPhone X seems like a completely pointless upgrade over the 7 Plus that is in my pocket right now. It’s beautiful, and neat, but…my tech goals are about getting work done.

Apple is doing what they think will sell stuff to the masses. I can see my kids freaking out over animoji and all of the other stuff that comes along with the new format, but for me?

I just can’t see where these updates make me more effective and efficient. I can’t justify it…even the lie to myself type justification that I usually use to make myself feel better bout spending unnecessary money on new tech.

I’m not going to switch to something else though. iOS with macOS is the best integration for productivity. Copy and paste across platforms. iCloud storage. Apple notes. It all makes me more effective and efficient. I am bought-in on the ecosystem, and I believe it is worlds ahead of using Mac with Android or Windows with Android.

I am also very excited about iOS 11. It’s going to be a game changer for the iPad. Being able to do most of what I do from a small, ultra-portable device? I’m excited.

Now what the LTE Apple watch? All day. That thing is awesome and opens up doors. I am super excited about it. That’s going to be awesome. It’s going to open up doors. I can’t wait to leave my phone behind without missing something absolutely important or urgent from family or employees.

Finally, I think Apple needs to breathe some youth into their leadership. The dad jokes and cheesiness has grown to the point of caricature. It’s going to open the door to companies who take tech a little more seriously.

The way this always works is a company attracts the artists and trend setters. Then come the builders and developers. Then the masses swing.

Don’t forget about the artists, Apple.

Moving

I am inspired by people who are not caught up in what people think.

I am not one of those people. I try to be, but I can’t help it. So much of what I do is done through the lens of, “Will people think I am awesome if I do this?”

If I think the answer is yes, I am probably wrong…and vice versa.

Yet, some of the most rewarding experiences of my life are the ones where I forgot about my desire to be admired and just lived. Still, I fall back into old habits.

I tell my kids all of the time that the people they think are cool on YouTube and TV and everywhere else, were most likely not thought of that way as kids. They were the “weird” ones. They didn’t fit in. They had interests that others did not have. They didn’t act the way everyone was supposed to act according to the current version of adolescent culture.

And yet they are admired, and probably not because they strive to be.

I don’t know. Maybe I am wrong about this, but I just want my life to be more about what is good instead of what gets me admiration.

Another area this kills me is taking risk. I have this feeling that if I can’t be great at something…if it’s not the best, I don’t want to even try it.

Take podcasting for example. I started a podcast through the Anchor app, and stopped when I got busy and missed one day. I have not picked it up since.

Why? Because I felt like a failure and starting again makes me come to terms with that.

But here is the deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s consistent. I should just create an episode when I feel like it and don’t do it when I don’t. It’s simple.

What’s more we would not even have a company podcast if one of my employees didn’t keep pushing for it. Why did I not want to do it? I was worried it wouldn’t be good enough. Is it good enough? Not yet. But it will be good in the future.

I fail. All the time. But I have to get over the fact that it doesn’t mean I can’t pick up and start again.

P.S. Hat tip to my wife who picked up Jon Acuff’s latest book, Finish, for me today the Orange Conference. It’s the inspiration of this post. Chapter 1 is about this exact topic.

Learning Is Part of the Process, Not An Obstacle

playing guitar

I know very little compared the amount I should know in order to be the CEO of a company, a husband, a father, etc. It’s my first time around for most of the decisions I have to make and projects I have to complete. So, I have a choice to make in each of these situations.

I can choose to learn everything before I start.

Or…

I can learn enough to start.

The first option means I will never start. I won’t try. I won’t make a decision. I won’t do anything because I will use my lack of knowledge as a crutch and an excuse. Besides, there is always more to know.

The second option is better and scarier. Learning enough to start means learning enough to take the next step. It’s scarier because it’s an adventure. I only know enough for one step which is not much. I only need to know the step, not the series of steps.

This second option  means learning is part of the process…not an obstacle. It happens along the way…not first.

You can do anything you want in life…you just have to figure it out.

6 Business Resources I Wish I Knew About Before I Did

The hardest part of learning how to run a company is getting the questions right. In the early days it was easy because someone else had the questions. It was the work…the to do list…all of the things coming at me every day that begged for attention.

As we grew and have brought on incredible people who take on the responsibility getting the work done, the hard part became figuring out what I was supposed to do.

The answer to this problem has always came from learning. When I go read, or watch, or shadow, or listen, I discover the things that I should be paying attention to.

Here are some great resources I wish I would have had before I started by business that have helped me answer these questions.

If you are running a business that makes money but is driving you crazy, check these out. I don’t know what question they will inspire you to answer, but I know they will help you.

Good luck!