3 Digitization Skills to Reinvent How You Work

My Work is LeanMcKinsey & Company’s latest “Next frontiers for lean”, celebrates one of the biggest idea in the past 50 years, lean management. Lean has transformed operations, prompting even service industries into re-engineering its processes. But, McKinsey reports, ” it has not reached its full potential”.

It has not reached you. Yet. But when it does, you will never think of work in the same way. And that mobile device in your pocket…it will become your personal intelligence system.

Sophisticated companies are turning to digital technologies, predictive analytics and behavioural psychology to get an edge in maximizing productivity.

The great thing however, is that you and I, the knowledge worker, are leading the most transformative revolution in the workplace.  Our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement has literally wrestled modern workflows out of the IT department. 80% of senior executives own 3 or more personal mobile devices. And that’s good. It means our pocket personal intelligence system stays with us, even if we leave the workplace.

But what if you and I acted like a sophisticated company and started applying basic lean techniques to our own work style. Imagine predicting layoffs within your organization. Think what you could do if you could anticipate patterns of behaviour patterns. Imagine redesigning your flexible work style if you had the basic tools.

Well, here’s your roadmap to modernizing your personal development curriculum. Here are my top 3 basic tools we can adopt to stay ahead and join the upwardly mobile crowd:

1. Become aware of the power of behavioural psychology: Take the Predictable Irrationality IQ Test from Dan Ariely and get the Pocket Ariely app for better decision making

2. Learn basic personal analytics. Personal analytics can be a bunch of things. Start with Google Analytics and if you have a personal website. Get the free basic training for Google Analytics here with the guys at Conversion XL. If you don’t have a website, start with your Facebook data (and discover what advertisers like about you….) with Wolfram Alpha Personal Analytics For Facebook. You may not like what you see but you will see how others view you. That’s a big head start.

3. Get a cloud based office with Google Apps for Work. If you are an independent mobile worker, you are likely already using these cloud based work, communication, storage and collaborative tools. But if you are an employee, you have access to the most powerful and flexible collaborative tools to work from anywhere. Moreover, reclaim control over your reputation, your contacts, your work, your privacy and your data. For $80 / year, it’s time to rethink who owns your workflow.

In 2015, we are going to hear a lot about flex and mobile work. We are also going to read a lot more on productivity, layoffs and work transformation.

That’s why modernizing your own personal development curriculum should be your secret action plan for 2015. In the meantime, sign up to my newsletter so you can discover the tools and skills  for your mobile work style.





Schedule Smarter in My Gmail?

It’s Monday.I already scored in my digital pursuit to make my cloud work life, simpler. When the Marketing Coordinator at Evernote emailed me this morning to schedule a brief chat, I noticed she was scheduling me with  Assistant.to from TryBetty.

Now, if you are like any other professional juggler, hmm, worker, scheduling can be a time drag. Think double bookings, time zones, or just plain misguided guessing.

But if you work at Evernote, you just might have an inside track on something easy. I completed my appointment with Assistant.to in seconds and then immediately headed off for my own trial run.

The verdict: It’s wonderful. Simple. Free.

Who Is This For:

If you use Gmail or Google Apps for Business, you are the target client. It’s great for business users who want to easily schedule appointments via email without fussing back and forth over mutually agreeable times.

The great thing is that your email recipient does not need to sign up with Assistant.to. The recipient does not need to be a Google Calendar or Gmail user. You do, however.

In order for Assistant.to to work, you must be using your Gmail client within Google Chrome. No problem, right? Everyone has more than one browser open on a desktop computer.

You can use this Gmail plugin if you intend on scheduling appointments with one person.

What Does It Do:

Assistant.to is an email based scheduler that appears in your Gmail. Send an email like you would normally do. The scheduler is now integrated to your email system.  It seamlessly monitors your Google Calendar so you never have to worry about double bookings and time zones. Your recipient can use any calendar system, like Outlook, Google Calendar or iCal (Apple Calendar).

Once your recipient selects a mutually convenient time to meet, Assistant.to will send an email notification of the selection to both you and your recipient.

The Downside:

Assistant.to is not for group scheduling or scheduling with two or more recipients. Maybe soon, however. More features are expected.

Also, if you are like me and use more than just Google calendars, like iCal, Assistant.to will not consider your appointments outside of Google. That raises my f*&% -up probabilities.

The Bottom Line:

I love the interface and the ease of use. I am going to integrate Assistant.to in my cloud workflow because this cloud service is just what I need for my simple scheduling tasks. In the meantime, ScheduleOnce is still the Swiss Army Knife of schedulers for professionals or consultants on the go





A Digital Eye for Your Home, Business (or Family), Anywhere With Dropcam Pro

Dropcam ReviewWith my cloud office, I can work / live in Toronto, Montreal or anywhere with excellent espresso bars. But who keeps an eye on my home or office when I’m gone. Insurance policies often no longer cover damages resulting from floods or hot water tank leaks. Hmmm. That’s why I checked out these next generation of video monitoring systems to address my 21st century problem.

My Perfect Video Monitoring System Should Allow Me to:
  1. View my video camera anywhere with my iPhone, Android, iPad or any computer;
  2. Receive email or text alerts of any detection, and allow others to receive notifications and viewing privileges
  3. Connect through Wi-Fi
  4. Walk through a simple setup, even for non geeks and grandparents
The Test

I tested a few video monitoring systems before choosing a winner:

  1. Lorex Digital Wireless system (399.99$CDN): Good for outdoor use but too complicated to install and did not meet my criteria #1, 2, 3 and 4.
  2. Belkin NetCam HD: Great price (129,00$CDN), easy to set up, even with an iPad. Great customer service, even on Sunday. All 4 criteria were met. The big issue for me was NetCam HD’s inability to connect with Apple Airport Express Wi-Fi base station. The quality of the video streaming was a little blurry, but hey, it worked.
  3. Dropcam Pro: This is by far, my top rated gadget of the year for the business nomad (219$CDN). Let me explain.

Why Dropcam Pro:

  • HD video premium quality: you can see clearly
  • Top audio quality: you can hear footsteps
  • 60 second setup: yes, it’s true
  • Mobile (iTunes & Android) apps to watch free live streaming, anywhere in the world (with Wi-Fi, of course)
  • 130 degrees field of view
  • High powered infrared night vision
  • Zoom in 8X
  • Motion and audio disturbance alerts via text or email messages, instantly (with settings preferences)
  • Share or delegate alert notifications: share the fun. Include friends or family on video monitoring duty
  • Compatible with Apple’s products, such as iPhone, iPad, Mac, Airport Wi-Fi base station
  • Optional cloud recording with 7 or 30 days subscription service ($99 to $299 annual subscription pricing)
  • Activity recognition included in the subscription service: Dropcam learns your motion patterns so to limit false alerts
  • Location awareness based on where you are
  • Responsive customer service.

Dropcam has a great support team. When I first completed my setup, I could not understand why I had this translucent and backwards “Hello” appearing during my night video. I emailed a screenshot of this problem to Dropcam support. Within 10 minutes, I had a gentle reminder to remove the protective seal off my video camera.

The ultimate seal of approval came from my parents. They now have a sump pump channel on Dropcam.  All in all, Dropcam is the perfect Wi-Fi video monitoring system. Don’t leave home without it.

Dropcam Pro

Expensify: Expenses On the Run? Fun?

Expensify - Expenses Made EasyI hated doing my monthly expenses when I worked at Fortune 500 companies. I had to sleuth through my bags, my luggage and my car to retrieve all the expense receipts and match them to my credit card statement. I would waste an entire day, usually under managerial “threats”, trying to reconcile my statement and my expenses. Heck, I just hated it just as much I hated accounting.

One of the benefits of running your own firm is that you get to choose the tools that make work, fun and mobile. Online accounting Freshbooks is an example of a great resource to run your business anywhere.

What about expenses? Can it be fun and simple? Enter Expensify with a tag line that reads “Expense reports that don’t suck”. Imagine a simple way to capture and digitize on the run, your travel, business mileage, restaurant receipts and billing.

What I like about Expensify: With the Expensify app, I simply need to pull out my phone, take a picture of the receipt and the Expensify will upload the data. It then matches the receipt information to the expense.  I can also email all my trip information, travel plans and digital receipts to my Expensify email account and save me the burden of having to locate my receipts after the trip. Finally, Expensify syncs with Freshbooks, Dropbox and my Evernote account. All my receipts are uploaded to my primary cloud server (such as Dropbox) so I do not have to scatter my receipts all over different clouds.

Pricing: I also like Expensify’s activity based pricing. For example, a Team plan cost $6 a month. However, my consultants can register for free. This is useful when you are working collaboratively with a independent group of consultants on behalf of a client. Your consultant can submit his time billing and expenses to you with the SmartScan technology.

Expensify works with various banks and credit card companies in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and most European countries.

Yes, it is possible to make expense reports on the run. Online solutions like Expensify make it easy to run your business, anywhere, anytime.