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.

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.

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.

Embracing A Mobile Based Toolkit

The more I lean into a focus on the work I am uniquely good at and enjoy, the harder look I take at the tools I use.

My tech fascination gave way to an obsession and has caused an increase in the amount of devices I interact with on a daily basis.

My daily carry alone has is 3 devices, laptop, tablet, and phone. This is despite the fact that I only use my laptop for a couple tasks that are easier on the computer. Basically, it’s more of a hassle to carry the thing around all the time than it is to take an extra minute or 2 on those couple of tasks. I continue to try to leave the laptop behind as much as I can to both force myself to find easier ways to get the same work done, and delegate what I don’t need to be doing anyway.

And apps are catching up to what I need. There is a learning curve, or an in-learning curve rather, where the app designers build in features that make so much more sense than simply copying laptop and web based work flows.

The QuickBooks app is one of these that is catching up. I love how they are thinking through what it’s like working on an iPad or mobile device and then providing simple workflows. I received 4 payments in the QB app on my iPad (one of the tasks I needed the web based version on my laptop to do), and it was so much faster and easier.

The other app that is incredible is the podcasting app, Anchor. Their iPad app is a very simple, yet powerful podcasting studio built into the app. I can record straight into the app, edit, and publish without needing to transfer files and such. It’s a different work flow that Logic or other audio editing software, but it makes sense on an iPad. I can’t wait to see where they take this.

It’s great that tech is catching up and I can start leaving my laptop behind without compromising functionality.

What mobile first workflows are you experimenting with? Can you leave your computer behind and remain productive?

Megatrends Notes

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Megatrends by John Naisbitt. The book is about 10 areas that are changing that will affect the future. Now…Megatrends was originally published in 1982…before I was born. Yes, my friend is much older than I am.

I am only a couple of chapters into the book and I am hooked. The concerns and behavior of the time mirrors the concerns and behavior of today. The only thing that changes are the technology and industries. I want to share my notes and thoughts.

Chapter 1 is all about predicting the change from the US being a manufacturing economy to an information economy. The concern that is being brought up is the US education system is not equipped to handle the change.

At the time, workers who embrace computers held the super-power of the time. This makes me wonder…what is the super-power skill of today?

I think it’s interpersonal skills, specifically face-to-face verbal communication and persuasion skills.

You see, we are on a 25 year run of tech, specifically computers and smartphones, being at the epicenter of our communication systems. This is not going to change, but, the people who remember working without these tools are retiring out of the workforce. With this exodus, interpersonal skills are leaving with it.

Yet, human behavior craves personal connection, even more so now that it is less common. Those skilled in speaking face-to-face and looking people in the eye are going to be more effective than their counterparts who are uncomfortable doing so.

This will be especially true in sales.

In fact, I just read a benchmarking report from one of my industries trade associations which found that while most people became aware of potential vendors through word of mouth or email, most buying decisions were made as a result of face-to-face meetings. Additionally, this same group listed email and software as the primary method of communication.

So basically, people are more comfortable communicating digitally, but buy based on face-to-face relationships.

What are you thoughts?

Build A No Hiding Culture

Startup Business People Working on Laptop

Accountability can be one of the hardest things to get right when running a company. While there are number of reasons why I started a company, the root of it all is that I am an ambitious person who wants to accomplish and succeed. It was put there in me, and I can’t shake it.

Being ambitious can put you on an island. Not everyone is wired the same way. And as much as I am ambitious, I also care for people. I want to treat them well.

When it comes to accountability, I fight this battle in my head. Do I push, or do I create room to grow? I think it can be both.

One solution to this problem is to only surround myself with ambitious people. People who want something for themselves see opportunity in executing on company goals because doing so will get them closer to their goals.

Another is I can either inspire ambition and feed it by setting a target and holding people accountable for hitting the targets. Both options are viable. The second option opens up more doors, especially with the workforce trends in the marketplace where there is very jaded and uninspired generation of people becoming the largest segment fo the workforce.

I have to create a culture where people can’t hide. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I have made in running my company. I assume that everyone is wired like me. The reality is they will think things are important that I care nothing about and ignore the things I think are important. It’s not deliberate. It’s just because they are wired differently.

In order to have accountability, I have to do 2 things.

First, I have to teach what’s important.

Second, I have to follow up to make sure those things are being executed on.

The more important, the more often they need to be followed up on.

Because in order to execute on a vision and dream, my company culture must have accountability. I have to set the expectation. I have to make it clear that when the expectation is not met, it is NOT OK. This can be uncomfortable for people, especially if they are hiding. But this is how to keep people from being able to hide.

The questions I need to be constantly asking, answering, and executing on are as these:

  1. How to I push people to grow without hurting their spirit/positivity/etc.
  2. How do I teach people to be ambitious, and should I only hire ambitious people?
  3. What is really important to me and to the company?
  4. What do I need to follow up on more deliberately?
  5. Who do I need to talk to because their lack of ambition is hurting their future at my company?

I can’t afford to have a culture where people can hide. I can’t have a culture that is brought down by unambitious team members. I can’t have a team of people who do not know what is important. In order to execute on this, I need to set clear expectations of what is acceptable and unacceptable (including having ambition). I need to decide on what I want to follow up on, and then relentlessly follow up on it.

Today did not go as planned…

I started a company because I wanted to great a great place for people to work.

I wanted to people to be free to organize their schedules, be the family members, parents, etc. they needed to be.

This has freed my team to show up for friends who needed them. Work from home when a kid was sick or a contractor is coming to their house. Pursue hobbies and whatever else.

The only thing I ask for in return is that they put everything they have professionally into their jobs.

I chose to work from home today because no one was going to the in the office. With all my kids at school, it was going to be a good opportunity to work in a different environment, uninterrupted, and get some of the creative and thinking work done that I have been unable to get done.

Then, my youngest got sick first thing this morning. Enter distraction, and my day getting thrown off course.

It would be easy to grow frustrated over this, but the reality is being available for times like this is the literal reason I wanted to work for myself and run my company the way that I do.

I am grateful, and today I was able to reconnect to the freedom and the environment I provide for my team because I benefited from it myself.

So while today was not what I hoped it would be, it is still a major win.

What are you doing to prepare for increasing skilled labor rates?

I am bullish on this topic which, is why I talk about it so much.

Maintenance repair rates are increasing and will continue to do so exponentially over the next 3-5 years.

  1. Repair contractors point to finding qualified people as the number 1 obstacle to running their businesses.
  2. They have to pay people more to attract them to their companies.
  3. As this problem increases…and it will for a period of at least 3-5 years…smaller repair contractors who aren’t able to command higher rates and pay hire wages are going to go out of business.
  4. This decreases the supply of contractors and increases demand…and rates…even higher.

Why am I telling you this?

Because the maintenance industry is too reactive. Because this reality is going to cause problems for those who don’t see it coming. And…because it’s going to affect your job as a facilities manager. It’s going to affect the skills you need in order to be effective. And…it’s going to affect the partners you choose to work with.

And you will need partners who act as an extension of your company instead of like a vendor.

You need partners to…

  • Compile new information daily so you aren’t blindsided by a setback.
  • Collect and analyze repair data. How will you find the root problems…the operational and personnel problems…that are leading to your maintenance issues.
  • Negotiate on your behalf…and I’m talking about more than pricing. You will have to negotiate to get your jobs scheduled first. You will have to negotiate to get someone to take you on as a customer. You will have negotiate on payment terms.
  • Look out for your best interests. When vendors believe they can get away with something, they will. What are you going to do when someone is overcharging, but they are your only option to get the work done immediately? Meanwhile, there are 4 other jobs under the same situation.

You have to start changing your mindset. You have to start looking down the road. Don’t wait. Stop reacting. Because if you don’t change, someone will come along who will.