Resolutions for the New Year
“The sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home.” – Christopher Columbus
Technology is like that for me. It’s my ocean. It pulls me closer to new horizons and at the same time eventually delivers me back where I began – kind of like something out of T.S. Elliot’s famous poem “The Waste Land.”
The metaphor works for just about anything. For in the end, we realize the only way to truly learn about life (or technology) is through constant exploration.
And so, as we wrap up this calendar year and look towards the next, with bellies full of hope and renewed enthusiasm, we should list our resolutions for self improvement. Here are my suggestions:
Get the next generation iPad. It’s due the first quarter of next year. You don’t have to like the iPad, but as a business person you do have to understand it. Consider the purchase small investment in your education. After you’ve played with the ‘natural interface’ for a while, install an app called Flipboard (flipboard.com) and play with a variety of content sources. The iPad and its competitors herald a new era in hardware and software. Now is the time to thoroughly grasp why the iPad is so popular and to figure out how your business can take advantage it.
Join the South By Southwest (sxsw.com) interactive conference in Austin, March 11-15. This yearly event brings the best and the brightest together for one long weekend of seminars, speeches, panel discussions and schmoozing. Think of it as Spring Break for nerds. Everyone is welcome. I highly recommend it. You will learn a lot about what’s happening in social media, e-commerce, search engine marketing, user experience and how your business can leverage those trends to boost profits. Let me know if you’re interested. We should go as an informal hui and serve as the geeky ambassadors from Hawaii.
Start using Plancast.com. As you might have guessed from the name, Plancast helps you plan what you intend to do. But equally importantly, it helps you meet the right people. Are you trying to break into a new market or industry? Want to deepen your network? Plancast is perfect for business. You can follow thought leaders and see which work-related seminars, conferences and events they are planning to attend and then map your own schedule accordingly. You can also see who else in your field is attending and make arrangements beforehand to meet. Plancast is free.
Ask questions, get answers and learn what you need to know at Quora.com. Social Q&A sites are nothing new. If you haven’t yet had a chance, check out LinkedIn Answers. I like LinkedIn Answers because I can help people and because in the process those people may eventually become my clients. Lately, though, I’ve been playing more with Quora. It’s a bit more social and a lot more fun. Create your Quora account during your lunch break today. It’s free and just takes a minute to get going. Follow topics and people relevant to your industry and start interacting with others. Use Quora to position your company as a leader in your field and start turning those prospects into leads.
Share your presentations using SlideRocket.com and SlideShare.net. The beauty of the internet is you can easily sell your product or service to anyone, anywhere and do it with relatively little start-up capital. Both SlideRocket and SlideShare are excellent tools to pitch clients globally. One solid presentation, coupled with strong distribution, could really boost your company’s sales. Both solutions will let you add analytics so you can you can measure your presentation’s effectiveness. You can even embed lead forms inside the presentation so viewers can easily contact you.
Access your files wherever you are with DropBox.com. It wasn’t that long ago when we stored all our files on our local hard drives or the office server and accessed those files while at work. Now, we find our working environments far more decentralized. We want to get to those files at all hours of the day, regardless of where we may be. DropBox is a terrific tool for making sure you have immediate access to the files you need. DropBox will automatically distribute and update the important stuff across all of your devices. Need the same set of files to be on your iPhone, your home computer, your office computer and your laptop while on the road? No problem. DropBox will do exactly that. And it will make sure its the most recent version of those files.
Use Evernote.com as a business tool. Evernote’s goal is to be your online brain. I use a Moleskin for quick notes, phone numbers, passwords and messages. But I use Evernote for everything else, including shopping lists, reading lists and daily action items. It’s great for capturing content on the fly and then referencing it later. But Evernote is also good for work. For example, you can snap a photo of a printed doc, store it in Evernote, and then review it during the commute home. Using its character recognition capability, you can use your cellphone to take pics of things like of business cards and expense receipts, and then file them accordingly. Evernote works across all your devices, from your cell phone to workstation, and syncs all your data so you get what you want, when you want it.
Curiosity is the key to knowledge and knowledge is the key to success. This is especially true in business, where trends and the changes in trends can bring great opportunity. The tech world is moving at warp speed. What worked 5 years ago for your business may not offer as much value today. To stay competitive, we must be competitive. That means we must maximize our exposure to new things. And given the significant return on investment it offers, harnessing the power of new technology should be one of our top priorities. Just jump into the sea. You can figure out how to swim along the way.