The Future of Work Devices

My kids don’t want computers. They want iPads. They want screens they can touch and comfortably hold six inches away from their faces. They are more comfortable doing homework on an iPhone than a computer. My oldest son even wrote a paper using dictation on his phone and then corrected it with the phone keyboard. The tools our kids use to get work done won’t be laptops and desktops.

I’ve been noticing a lot of criticisms about the new iPad. Tech YouTubers are mostly united in the conclusion that it ‘s the best hardware and speed ever, but that it fails at being a computer replacement because computer workflows don’t work. I think that’s the point.

The iPad is meant to be the “computer” of choice for the generation of people whose first “computer” was a phone. People who feel uncomfortable sitting down at a traditional machine with windows and unnecessary steps to get done what they want to get done. In the same way that employment is changing with the Gig Economy, remote work, the devices, and workflows used to get things done are going to change. We are going to have a generation of people who are post- computer.

This is important for business leaders for two reasons.

First, you are going to have to rethink your business systems, tools, processes) and most importantly, your attitude about devices to optimize for, attract, and keep the next generation of workers. This goes beyond devices and expends into software and services as well. You are going to have to disassociate a phone, texting, etc. from shouting off or being unprofessional. You are going to need to embrace and learn this new style of work and he a champion of it.

Second, the products, services, and solutions you are developing and selling need to be thought about through the lens of mobile-first. Your customers will not be stationary. They won’t be in one place physically or digitally for too long. Your solutions and products need to help them where they are and also move with them to where they are going.

By the way, this post was handwritten using an app called Nebo, exported to text, edited in Grammarly in a browser, and then lines added and posted wherever you are seeing it now.

Changing My Relationship with Learning

Raising kids is like having a bunch of parrots–or instant replay monitors–or whatever other metaphor applies to seeing a reflection of your own behavior lived out right in front of you. Like when one of your kids scolds another one of your kids for bothering him, his voice ripe with condescension, and you scold him for too. Except 4 words in to your monologue you realize you are doing the exact same your kid was doing. And he’s looking at you, confused, wondering what is wrong. He is just copying your behavior.

I have a 13-year-old son. He has a phone. He is always on his phone, or his Xbox. When there is nothing to do, there is a screen in front if his face. He swipes more than he types, or takes photos, or does any other output. It drives me nuts. Why is he wasting so much time? Why does he consume so much more than he creates? Why doesn’t he go outside and play. And I tell him. He looks at me, confused, wondering what is wrong. He is just copying my behavior.

I have a laundry list of things I want to do–things my ideal self-image does. My ideal self is a writer, a teacher, a strong leader, a programmer. My ideal self works hard every day, has a strong group of friends and a giant business network.

The real me spends too much time learning–my euphemism for consumption. There is more information in my brain, information that I have consumed, than I could take action on in a decade. Still, I look for new things to learn. The content criteria gets lax. I am wasting time.

I see it in my kids, in the way they choose to spend their time. They are a reflection of my poor habits–my good ones too, yes–but it’s the poor habits that limit us in life. I can’t allow this to continue, and I can’t change it with words that don’t match behavior.

So I want to change my relationship with learning. Learning through action, through creation, through building things and making a contribution. Learning to work through fear and imposter syndrome and quieting the inner critic.

Learning through action.

Something Every Day

When you look at the habits of anyone who is world class, the one thing that is consistent with every single one of them is that they showed up for work on their “thing” almost every day for a very long period of time.

Some of them don’t believe they are good enough. 

Some of them aren’t naturally gifted at what they do.

Yet, the simple process of taking consistent action over a long period of time is what leads to their success.

I think about all of the things I want to do or wish I would have done, and for so many of those things if I would have just stuck with it, or started even–for just a small amount of time each day–I may have ended up world class.

That stings and it motivates.

Business Advice: Staring a Business

I have had a couple of people reach out to me lately asking for advice on starting and running businesses. It’s great. I am glad I have build a reputation that I know what I am doing…even though I feel like I am just figuring it out. It’s got me thinking about what to tell people.

  1. It’s harder than you will ever imagine in areas that you wouldn’t imagine.
  2. It gets harder as it goes on…not easier.
  3. Focus on sales first. Solving problems caused my too much sales is way better than solving problems caused by not enough sales.
  4. Don’t do it by yourself, and make sure you have people who you can turn to for leadership and advice.
  5. Create a list of everything you need to do. Pick one thing. Do it. Repeat this every day for a week. Then make a new list at the beginning of the next week. Repeat this process forever.
  6. Remember to look back at what you have accomplished when you get discouraged by what you have not accomplished.
  7. It’s ok to go into a room by yourself and cry and yell or whatever you need to do.
  8. Schedule healthy stress releases, or you will unintentionally have unhealthy stress releases.
  9. You will notice as time goes by that you have more people around who want something from you than people who want something for you. This is a natural consequence of leadership. So…be intentional about seeking out people who want something from you.
  10. You are more that your performance. This is hard to believe at times when you are doing really well and at times when you are note doing very well.
  11. Hire people to do what you are not good at doing as early as possible. This can be through outsourcing or employees.
  12. Hire people who are results oriented and can figure out problems on their own. Give them goals. Hold them accountable.
  13. Don’t stop selling your vision to the people you lead.
  14. Take time to practice gratitude. You will get caught up in the problems and in what needs to be done. Gratitude helps take some of that pressure off, and it is certainly energizing.
  15. Keep as much money in the company as possible because something will happen and you will need it to be there.
  16. If you are doing it right, you won’t be the person who has all of the answers.
  17. Pay attention to what people do more than what they say.
  18. Don’t isolate yourself. (See numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17).

Creating Room For Boredom

I read about the idea of reengineering your habits towards producing by creating room for boredom. When we are waiting for something, sitting around, and even when we are supposed to be working, we tend to reach for our phones.

The author posed this question: “When is the last time you focused on a single task for one hour straight without reaching for your phone or checking email?” I can’t say that I remember doing that outside of being on a run. And even then, I usually turn on a podcast.

In my meditation app, Headspace, there is a meditation on dealing with distraction. The idea it proposes is that when we are bored, we are focused on what we are missing out on instead of focusing on what is going on in the present. Boredom is a symptom of FOMO and a major driver of discontent.

But boredom is only bad when I succumb to my impulses. I am finding that when I force myself to work through my boredom and resist the compulsion to check what else is going on, I create the right environment to think more deeply. I am able to access thoughts and ideas, and do work that is impossible with an occupied mind.

My action step from this idea is to decide on an important project or task, dedicate an amount of time to work on it without distraction, and then work until the time expires.

Reset. Refocus.

When I first started my company, I was motivated by the idea that no matter what, we were going to make Envoy a great place to work. I would always say, “The job may not be the best job you’ve ever had, but this will be the best place you have ever worked.”

Almost 5 years has gone by, and my original ambition is still true. However, the bumps and bruises which come with starting and running a company have distracted me from the execution. I have lost focus. I have let culture slip. I have not been as intentional as I know I should be.

I try not to beat myself up over my failures. That sits in the same box as complaining…self-centered, unproductive, and toxic. Instead, I recognize failures as another part of the personal growth process. I focus on what I can do going forward. The wonderful part about life is that we are free to change directions at any moment. You can decide today…right now…to take action that will change your future.

It won’t be easy because change is never easy. But just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I have a lot of work to do to become the leader I set out to become. I would even say I have some back tracking to do. As my pastor said last Sunday, “You don’t know the exact moment you’re lost. You discover you’re lost long after you became lost.” I would say this is true for me as well.

This is my public promise to myself…an accountability message for future me. I know what to do. Now, I need to go and do it.

Oh…and this time, stay focused so you don’t have to do this again.

The Right Way To Ask

Hey Everyone!

I just published my latest podcast called “The Right Way To Ask For Something” on my Anchor page.

Take 10 minutes and listen, but if you don’t have time, here are the 3 points I cover:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Ask for more than what you need.
  3. Put the problem on their plate to solve.

I break it down with more detail and a couple of examples on the show, so be sure to listen in if you want to learn more.


Voice Dictation

In my effort to use my computer less and my mobile device more as my primary work tool, I been to relying on voice dictation more than I do typing.

There are a few things that I like about this approach.

It is faster. Speaking is way quicker than using my thumbs to type something out on the keyboard. So, if I need to get something out fast, speaking into my phone is going to be the best way to do it.

Speaking into my phone helps me to connect more with what I’m actually saying. I find this very similar to what it’s like writing my words down on paper with a pen. I have to be more thoughtful about what I’m saying.

It allows me to practice communicating verbally. This is incredibly important especially with the fact that our workforce is now 100% remote, and it’s very easy to rely on written communication.

I find my thoughts flow more freely out of my head when I’m speaking into my phone. Sometimes I’ll get into a topic that I’m trying to communicate to one of my team members, and I’ll be able to express what I mean more clearly because I’m not constantly editing what I’m saying. I’m allowing what I mean to just flow. I’m a verbal processor, and I work well this way.

One limitation with dictation, especially with the iPhone, is that there’s a time limit on how long you can speak into your keyboard. One way I get around this is by using the Drafts app by a company called Agile Bits. I’m using Drafts 5, which is their newest offering. There is a feature to do voice dictation directly into the application instead of the keyboard. There’s a button that you press with a little microphone on it which allows you to speak for as long as you want. What’s neat is I can actually leave this running in the background. If there’s a thought I’m trying to get out, and I can’t get it clearly get it out of my head. When there’s a long pause in my speech, it will actually add in a special set of characters, so I know that there was silence at that point.

Another limitation is that you have to remember to add punctuation verbally. So, at the end of a sentence you actually have to say the word period. If you need a comma, or an ellipsis, or any other form of punctuation you need to say it out loud.

Finally, dictation is not perfect yet. There are frequently words that my phone doesn’t understand. For example, it can’t tell the difference between writing and riding. I can see this being a major problem with people with very strong accents. Still, it’s much faster and way more convenient than trying to type out everything. From my experience this is an area that is getting better all the time.

So, if you struggle with typing in your phone, definitely experiment with voice dictation. Just like anything else, it does take practice. What you’ll find in the end is that it is a more convenient way of getting words from your head into your phone.

One final note: this entire blog post was originally transcribed using voice dictation and the drafts app. I then put it into another app on my phone called Ulysses where I fixed typos, added links, and ultimately published to my blog.

Land Rights for AR Ads

I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk talk about the gamification and advertising opportunities of AR on his podcast. His example was he was competitors placing AR ads in competing retailers physical spaces.

This got me thinking…is land rights for digital and AR going to become a thing? There are already mineral rights, gas rights, etc. If you hold a premium piece of real estate, should an entity wanting to advertise through AR have to pay a premium price set by the property owner? Or, say you didn’t want someone’s ad on your property, should you have control over that?

I am sure there are plenty of smart people already thinking about this, but it definitely is going to be an issue to address.

Alone With Your Thoughts

When is the last time you were alone with your thoughts?

This is a question I keep asking myself. It seems like any time I am alone…in the car, on a run…I have some sort of entertainment. It’s an audiobook, a podcast, music.

So I have this question pop up in a reminder once a week. It makes me think about. Maybe I’ll leave the headphones behind on a long run or keep the radio off in my car…just let my mind wander.

I haven’t had any major epiphanies or anything. I do feel more relaxed when I am done, and if I am honest, a little bored the whole time. Which, if you think about it, is boredom all that bad really? I think I need to be bored more often, let my mind run wild, see what I learn about myself.

What about you? When is the last time you were alone with your thoughts?