The 30 Tools I Use For Productivity, Blogging, Social Media, & Travel (18 are free!)

I don’t know how many times I’ve said – “I wish I had more hours in the day!”

I’m sure you’ve had that sentiment as well.  Alas, 24 hours a day is all we get.  That isn’t going to change.  What can change is how much you can squeeze out of each hour.

30tools 3d cover

Before I go on, I want to make this point.  I’m not advocating becoming a workaholic – or even feeding that addiction.  I’m talking about getting more work done faster.  I’m talking about being able to have more time for what really matter.  Time for your family.  Time to take care of your health.  Time for self-development.  Time for care for your spiritual health.

Some of the most valuable posts I’ve ever read have been on the subject of productivity.  I consume that kind of information.  Everything I’ve learned about productivity apps has come from others or just tinkering with them.  All I’ve learned about traveling efficiently comes from experience and what others have shared with me.

So here is my resource list of the 30 tools I use on a regular basis to squeeze more out of every day.  I’m going to give you the highlights here, and you will be able to download it at the end of the post.

Productivity

When I did my reader survey last month, the subject of productivity was the number one topic of choice.  In this section, I give you my favorite free and paid tools for increasing your productivity.  And here’s a little hint – 1password and Tripit are completely awesome.  Awesome!

Blogging

Blogging has revolutionized my online presence.  It is not easy to do.  But it is so worth it.  The key to blogging well over time is to systematize it.  I have a few templates that I use for most posts.  It saves me a ton of time.  These are the tools I use to build my email list, optimize for SEO, etc.  These tools will save you a ton of time and allow you to maximize your ROI.

Social Media

I’m almost sick of social media.  I believe most people have accepted that social media provides value – sometimes a ton of it.  Though I’m sick of talking about, I use it everyday.  And if you’ve never heard or used BufferApp, you need to check this section out.

Travel

I traveled a ton for work last year.  I think I was on 65 airplanes.  If there is one thing I’m good at, it is navigating airports.  Traveling is a drain on your energy no matter who you are.  Being able to minimize the frustrations of travel while remaining productive saved me a tremendous amount of stress.  These are the tools I used to do it.

Bonus Section:  Recommended Books

As a bonus, I’ve included some of my favorite books in the following categories:

  • Platform building
  • Productivity
  • Business
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • And others…

These are books that I’ve read and personally recommend.  I’m no expert in any of these subjects.  However, these are books that have helped me grow in these areas.

To download your copy of this free resource list, simply click the button below!

Download Your Free Resource List

CRE Radio Event: Social Media Best Practices for CRE Professionals

This Friday at 3pm EST/Noon PST, I have the privilege of being one of a few featured guests on the National CRE Radio Show – Commercial Real Estate Radio with Howard Kline.  We are going to be talking Social Media Best Practices for CRE Professionals.  I have been connected with Howard Kline for a couple years via Twitter.  His radio shows are packed full of great content for CRE professionals.

courtesy of iStockPhoto

courtesy of iStockPhoto

I am also excited to be on this panel because it includes some of my favorite people in CRE:  Barbi Reuter, Michael Lagazo, and Sarah Malcolm.

Barbi (www.twitter.com/barbireuter) is the CRE Marketing & Operations Executive for PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services in Tucson, Arizona.  She is a social media all-star and one of the true pioneers of social media use in CRE.  She is also one of my favorite people.

Michael (www.twitter.com/michael_mba) is the guy who I watched to learn how to use Twitter.  He is a CRE all-star in San Diego and has forgotten more about retail than I will ever know.  He also may be the nicest guy on Twitter and will send you coffee.  What could be better??

Michael and Barbi are both founding members of the #crejavaclub on Twitter.  If you love CRE and a hot cup of joe, look us up!

Sarah Malcolm (www.twitter.com/icsc) is the Director of New Media for the International Council of Shopping Centers.  She is a social media power house.  Reading her bio on LinkedIn will force you to be out of breath.  I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about social media best practices.

I hope that you can join us on Friday as Howard normally takes questions.  You can call in with yours at (619) 393-6492.

The show description is below.  This is your opportunity to submit your social media questions ahead of time that Howard may cover.  Use the comments section below!

Show Description

Social media, social media, social media.  You hear it everywhere you go and everyone is telling you that you have to do it. Everyone else is telling you how to do it, but is anyone getting through? Is there any value to it and how much time do you have to spend on it to be of any value to you?

What about sales?  Really, isn’t that what this is supposed to be about, selling and making money?  What good does it do you if you spend 2 hours a day schmoozing online and haven’t picked up a client in 3 months?  Are there any shortcuts and gimmicks that you can rely upon to make it worth your time?

Isn’t social media all about advertising?  How many eyeballs see your name is all that counts, right?  What about relationships and trust, nice words to include in your repertoire, but do those words put food on your table or pay your mortgage?  And let’s not forget the two most chic words of 2013, “engagement” and “collaboration”. Oh, how the experts like to throw those words in your face, if for no other reason then to show you how much more they know than you.

But enough of my ranting, listen in as I discuss these issues and words and the meaning of life, (in social media), with, Barbi Reuter, Sarah Malcom, Bo Barron, Michael Legazzo and I, some of the most well know and most influential commercial real estate professionals utilizing social media to bring in the money.  We are not the social media experts.  We are the pilgrims, the veterans, the ones with the scars with stories of the things we didn’t understand, we don’t understand and what we are figuring out as we go along. We are you after you start “getting it.” We are students of social media and cre, learning as we go along, trying to figure it out and willing to share our experiences with you so that you do not have to get the same scars as us.

During the show, we will also discuss why you should be interested in social media for your business and what services, (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest, among others), you should use and for what purposes.  Property manager, logistics expert, investor, property manager; this is not a one size fits all lecture.  We will help you figure this out for your purposes.

5 Podcasts that Will Make You Smarter

Recently, I was able to connect with one of my closest friends while driving home from a trip to Chicago.  This guy is the kind of friend that everyone needs.  He was in my wedding.  I was in his.  We were fraternity brothers at Murray State University.  He was the quarterback.  I was the receiver.  We even dated the same beautiful Southern girl (not at the same time) who I now get to call my wife.

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

He is the kind of friend when you haven’t spoken for a year, it is like it was yesterday.  Everyone needs at least one friend like this.  I am blessed to have a couple.

My friend was sharing with me an opportunity he has to leave the corporate world and start a business.  He has created something special that could be incredibly valuable to his customers and himself.  However, he told me that he doesn’t think he’ll do anything because he doesn’t have a clue about starting or running a business.

Fifteen minutes later I had brain-dumped all this information on him.  Now, I have started a business (that failed), and I have owned a business that I sold.  But the stuff that I was telling him surprised me.  How did I know this stuff?

Then it occurred to me that I was repeating a lot of great information that I had learned through listening to some incredible podcasts from businesses leaders across the United States (actually, most of them are in Nashville).

If you are not familiar with a Podcast, it is literally someone recording themselves speaking about some subject.  It is much like a radio show.  However, you can download these podcasts on your iPod, iPhone, or other smart-phone or mp3 player.  You simply subscribe through iTunes – for free – and they automatically download whenever a new episode is published.

Before I share with you which ones I love and recommend, let me share with you how I consume this information:

  • While working out - I can kill two birds with one stone when I engage my mind and my body at the same time.
  • While driving – great content is so much more effective than coffee at keeping me alert.  Not only that, but I can transform my car into a classroom and make the most of every moment.
  • On a plane – I’m actually on a plane as I write this somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta.  Were I not writing, I guarantee that I would be listening to one of the following podcasts.

My Top 5 Recommended Podcasts

  1. This is Your Life, A Podcast by Michael Hyatt – If you aren’t familiar with Michael Hyatt, you should be.  He has a top 100 (in the world!) blog on intentional leadership.  He has recently written a New York Times Bestseller called Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  His is by far my favorite blog and his content is amazing.  His podcast is awesome too.  He is authentic.  You end up just liking him.  I get to meet him next month at our company’s National Conference where he is giving the keynote address.  I am also going to his Platform Conference the following week in Nashville.  Can’t wait!
  2. 48Days Online Radio Show by Dan MillerDan Miller rocks.  A mentor of mine suggested that I connect with him last year.  I ended up hiring him as a career coach.  He is also a bestselling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and other books.  His podcast centers around careers, business plans, business models, and other career related info.  You can’t listen to him and not get fired up about what is possible.
  3. Ray Edwards Podcast - Ray probably has my favorite podcast.  He is very transparent and genuine, and he basically let’s you in on his life.  He is a productivity freak (I mean that in a good way).  His podcast is broken up into segments which I love.  He has a main message of each podcast, but also has a tech tip of the week, a spiritual foundations segment, and a segment with Stu McLaren who is great.  Ray is also a marketing genius.
  4. Entreleadership Podcast – I can’t believe that this is 4th on my list, but the others are just that good.  This is the podcast from Dave Ramsey and his main man Chris LoCurto.  Every show has a short message from Dave that sets the theme, but then they move to a guest interview.  The guests are amazing and are a who’s who when it comes to business.  You can’t get this kind of access to this kind of wisdom and experience anywhere else I’m aware.
  5. Podcast Answer Man with Cliff Ravenscraft – This podcast is obviously a little more technical.  I include it because at least the first three podcasts listed above are a result of Cliff’s expertise.  He is the expert when it comes to podcasting.  I hope to introduce my own podcast this year so I have been studying up.  Cliff is also a Kentucky boy like myself!

In one sentence, these podcasts are like being able to sit at the feet of these guys and learn from their wisdom.  And it’s free!

So who do you listen to that I don’t?  Who would crack your top 5?  Let us know in the comment section below!

Social Media For Brokers Webinar: Twitter

Please join Angela Brown and me for a free webinar sponsored by CoStar!

Social Media for Commercial Real Estate Brokers Webinar:  Twitter

Thu, Nov 29, 2012
3:00 PM ET (12:00 PM PT)

Click here to register!

During this live presentation with social CRE experts, you will learn best practices for elevating and managing your social media presence on Twitter. This program will go beyond the basics, leaving participants with actionable information that they can use right away.

Our topics include:

What you can do with Twitter – You’ve heard all the fuss but what is it good for?

Nailing the profile – A look at profile best practices and recent changes to its appearance

Connect with clients and prospects using
“The Rule of Thirds”

Presenters:

-Angela Brown, Communications Manager, CoStar Group

-Bo Barron, CCIM, Managing Director, Sperry Van Ness/The Barron Group

Click here to register!

*Do you communicate on a social media channel?  If so, spread the word!  Tell those that may benefit from this webinar to join us.

A Review of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

This is the book that started it for me.  This past May, Michael Hyatt published his New York Times bestseller Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  The blog you are reading now was built on what I learned in this book.

In January 2010, I sat in on a webinar where a man laid out a social media strategy.  Until that day, I thought that Twitter was ridiculous.  I believed that the ROI on a social media strategy equated to wasted time.  I listened to this man spend an hour describing the benefits of having a social media strategy.  That hour changed things for me.

As I write this post, I have 2,677 followers on Twitter.  I have 1,502 business connections on LinkedIn.  I have 2,698 ‘friends’ on Facebook.  I don’t share this to boast.  I simply want you to know what is possible.  I am certainly not a celebrity.  What I have done is execute a plan, and it has worked.

When I read Platform in July of this year, it had the same effect on me as did the webinar on social media.  I finally understood the importance of blogging in conjunction with these other social media tools.

So what is a platform?  It is something that you stand on to be noticed above the crowd.  It provides visibility.  It allows for the amplification of a message.  It facilitates a connection between the messenger and the audience.  I don’t care if you have a product or service to sell or a cause to promote, you need a platform.  If this describes you – and it does – this book is for you.

The social media revolution makes this even more important.  Consider these statistics:

  • 14% of people trust traditional advertising (that is an incredible figure!)
  • 18% of TV ads generate a positive Return on Investment (ROI)
  • 90% of people skip ads if they have a DVR/TiVo
  • 78% of people trust recommendations from connections via social media
  • 70% of people trust recommendations from strangers via social media (wow!)

Michael Hyatt has been blogging for over 8 years and has built a truly world-class platform.  He shares with the reader what he has learned in that time from his success and failures.  The book is laid out in 60 short chapters that cover the following 5 steps to build an effective platform.

  1. Start With Wow – He uses a quote in the book that says great marketing simply makes a bad product fail faster.  The idea is you must have great content.  Wow your audience!
  2. Prepare to Launch – This is the preparation for launching your platform.  He covers everything from thinking bigger, to defining your goals, to setting up your tools.
  3. Build Your Home Base – This is the section of his book where he really dives into blogging.  How to blog.  How to write posts faster. How to avoid common mistakes.  This section has been invaluable to me as I launched my blog in September.
  4. Expand Your Reach – This section is all about how to build your audience.  It is full of sage advice and helpful tips that I use on a regular basis.
  5. Engage Your Tribe – Social media is a phone conversation – not a mega-phone.  The entire idea is to build and then engage your audience.  In this section, Hyatt shares with you all he has learned in building a platform that has over 300,000 unique visitors to his blog every month.

This is now a reference book for me.  It is highlighted and underlined.  I have notes written in it everywhere.  It is also the one book that I’ve loaned out and actually made sure I got back.  What I love most about it is the 3-5 page chapters.  Whatever I have a question about, I can grab this off the shelf and quickly find the answer.

This book needs to be on your shelf as well.  Here is where you can order it – Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (affiliate link).

So let me hear from you.  Have you read it?  What did you learn?  What could a larger platform help you accomplish?

Technology and App Review: IFTTT

Do you remember when you were a kid?  That feeling you got when you walked into the candy store?  Or the toy store?

I remember when I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  I owned a 1994 Honda Accord.  It was a great car.  I knew it would be a couple of years before I would see it again so I sold it.  I also sold my Takamine (it’s an acoustic guitar).  It was beautiful.  When I arrived at the language school in Monterey, CA, I had no car and no guitar.  I did have a wad of cash, though.

My entire life I’d wanted a Taylor guitar (I have a 1959 Gibson J45 with a J200 neck now – awesome!).  Like it was yesterday, I remember what it felt like to walk in that music store on Alvarado St. knowing that I was leaving with a Taylor.

I’m being a bit hyperbolic, but I am just about that excited with my new discovery.  Let me introduce you to IFTTT!

IFTTT:  If This Then That

The idea of this website is to allow users to create if-then automated tasks between multiple social media platforms.  If This happens Then That happens.  Got it?  Let me give you a popular example:

  • If Facebook profile picture changes, then update Twitter profile picture.
  • If you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, then it will be sent to Dropbox

Can you see the possibilities?  The Grovo Blog calls it “programming for dummies.”

Vocabulary

  • Channels – channels are the building blocks of IFTTT and are the social media platforms themselves – like Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Evernote, Dropbox, etc.  They currently support 53 “channels.”
  • Triggers – triggers are the ‘This’ in the ‘If This Then That’ formula.  It is what must happen first.
  • Action – action is the ‘That’ in the ‘If This Then That’ formula.  It is the effect in the cause and effect relationship.
  • Recipe – the recipe is the connection that is made when you put the above together.  Here is a screenshot from the IFTTT website.

How to Get Started

The user experience of IFTTT can’t be much better.  It is clean and simple – super easy.  Follow the steps below to get started.  Then get to simplifying your lives!

  1. Create an account – Create a username, enter your email, then your password twice.  About as easy as it gets.
  2. Link Your Channels – Frankly, I was really surprised at how easy this was.  I use 22 of the 53 channels, and I had them all linked in under 5 minutes.  The only one I had problems with was WordPress.  You must enter your URL without “http://” or “www.”  So for me, it was just “bobarron.com.”
  3. Create Recipes Use Other People’s Recipes – OK – you can create your own, but why bother?  According to IFTTT’s blog, over 1,000,000 recipes have been created as of April 30, 2012.  There’s no telling how many there are now.
  4. Search for Your Favorite ‘Channels’ – Since IFTTT is a social site, you can see other people’s recipes.  That is great, but with over a million, a search function is crucial.  The search auto-populates and is super fast – like a Google search.  As I love Evernote, I did a quick search to find that there are 3,999 recipes.  Kid in a candy store!

A Few Notes

I want to highlight a couple other points.  At the end of Sept ’12, Twitter shut down IFTTT’s ability to use Twitter as a trigger. Again, a trigger is the ‘if then’ part of the formula.  Twitter can still be the ‘then that’ part.  Essentially, you can not use IFTTT to auto-respond for you every time someone follows you or retweets you.  As I don’t particularly like the canned thank you ‘DM’ (direct message), not a biggie for me.

Google+ is not a channel.  I’m not sure why that is, but there are workarounds using other channels like Hootsuite.

Verdict

I’m excited.  I think there are some great efficiencies to be had here – especially with Evernote and Dropbox.  I plan on exploring more of this in the coming weeks.  I also think that as IFTTT gains a broader base of users, the recipes will expand as well.  I easily see many posts in the future along the lines of “Best 10 IFTTT recipes for Evernote.”

I’d like to hear from you!  Had you heard of IFTTT before?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes?

The Day I Followed and Disagreed with Brian Tracy

About a year ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the national Sperry Van Ness convention in San Diego.  I’d never been to San Diego – that town rocks!  I was to speak on how to use LinkedIn to connect with prospects and aid in prospecting.  I have spoken at the Sperry Van Ness convention a couple of times before – always on some aspect of Social Media.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was to speak after lunch.  Right before lunch, the best-selling author and prolific speaker Brian Tracy spoke.  He gave a fantastic keynote on goals.  It was the best I’d ever heard on that subject.  However, at some point in his speech, he basically said that social media had no place in sales.  You might get known, but you’d be known and broke.  I felt 200 pairs of eyes turn and look at me – at least it felt that way.

I disagree with Brian Tracy, but he is also exactly right.  I’ve never made a sale directly from a tweet.  That may never happen.  You make a mistake when you make the means the end.  Social Media is a means to connect, build relationships, and add value.  Social Media is about connecting as humans – having an impact on someone.  Chris Brogan has a new book coming out called The Impact Equation that makes this point.

Over the past month, I’ve connected with @theBrokerList.  TheBrokerList.com is the idea of Linda Day Harrison, and is the first online CRE broker directory – very cool.  (Go ahead and stop reading this post and check it out.)  We actually spoke on the phone yesterday.  It turns out that she married into a family that is from where I went to college.  My mom is from her hometown, and I have a brother living there now.

I now like Linda on a personal level.  See how that works?  On a professional level, I am going to do some guest blogging on www.theBrokerList.com.  This helps her by bringing attention and fresh content to her site.  It helps me by giving me exposure to her viewers.  Now that I know her a bit and like her, I want to help her.

This is the power of connecting with a person versus generating retweets.  I tell stories in my blog posts because I want readers to connect with me on a personal level.  All of life is about relationships – relationships with your spouse, your family, your boss, your employees.  Business is about building relationships with prospects, earning the right to call them clients, serving them until you become a trusted advisor, and on….

Social Media is simply a new and trendy vehicle to accomplish the same end:  connecting with people.  I now find it ironic that I follow Brian Tracy (@briantracy) on Twitter.  He sells too much there – hehe.

How do you use Social Media to connect with people?  To build relationships?  To add value to people’s lives?  When do you make the means the end?  When was the last time you checked your Klout score?

Twitter: The Commercial Real Estate Barometer

Those who have been in the commercial real estate industry for any amount of time know it lags the business cycle. Nobody gauges the economy by what commercial real estate is doing. Commercial real estate brokers, investors, and principals watch the economy, knowing that whatever happens there will be coming down the pike a year or two later for commercial real estate. It’s a frustrating way of life, but commercial real estate professionals have learned to deal with it.

Savvy commercial real estate investors always seek advice and counsel when it comes to making investment decisions. That said, all “experts” are not created equal – Those investors who have access to better, more timely information provided by more sophisticated advisors simply have an edge. So here are a few questions to ponder: How broad is your sphere of influence? Who are the “experts” you’re seeking advice from? What if I told you that you could have real-time, 24-7-365 access to the world’s best practitioners in every aspect of commercial real estate, and that this unfettered access was free – would you be interested?
Want to get a better idea of economic trends? How about