The Tools I Use: New Series


We're kicking off a new series in our productivity category on PromoKitchen, inspired by the uber-popular site, The Setup. This series is designed to help our community discover and share new tools to build their businesses and enhance their personal lives. We welcome members of our community to participate in this column. If you would like to submit a post, just answer the three questions in bold (below) and email me your article, we'd love to have your contribution. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Bobby Lehew, I am the Chief Branding Officer at Robyn (technically CEO, but since we provide branded products, CBO seems apropos).

What hardware do you use?

I can't claim to being so avant-garde I helped usher in the Mac revolution, but I'm a dyed in the wool acolyte now. I use a 15" MacBook Pro (running Lion), iPhone 4 and iPad 2. At Robyn, we're primarily on windows with a few Macs sprinkled here and there, so I still have a PC as well. I have an external large screen at home and at the office, both are adjustable horizontal/vertical screens. My screen at home is always in vertical mode, a sleek, solid black monster looking more like the Jolly Green Giant's iPhone than a screen. I love reading and working with screens in vertical mode.

For podcasts (PromoKitchen and the 7 Minute Smarketer), I use Snowball Blue mics and Bose IE2 headphones while recording and Bose QuietComfort 3's for editing (for podcasting software see below). I don't possess the brain coordination to listen to music while working (not a good multi-tasker), many do and I envy them because I love music. Occasionally, I'll fire up the only tolerable playlist I can handle while working (that particular playlist is less distracting only because I've listened to most of those songs hundreds of times). The few times I can multi-task with music, I'm usually at home and the QuietComfort 3's come in handy.

And what software?

Omnifocus is the one digital tool I absolutely cannot live without. I use it for project management, task management and, quite honestly, life management. I'm part of the inbox zero cult and a devout David Allen follower so I use Omnifocus to channel that GTD vibe.

For web presentations, I use GoToMeeting and a special demo page to our stores that Maestro Eric has set up. For in-person presentations, I use Keynote and even OmniOutliner (I once did an entire presentation, full of weblinks, using OmniOutliner). For email, the obligatory, loathsome, and bloated Outlook and for number crunching, I prefer minimalist and design-friendly Numbers over Excel. As you can tell, I still operate in many silos, so for my calendar I use the default Mac calendar, iCal. It works for me because it syncs to the cloud and can also sync our company Google calendar and Doodle, a tool I use to schedule any outside meetings that require more than two people (“consensus based scheduling”). Doodle is brilliantly convenient because I can send someone my availability when we're trying to coordinate calendars, thereby eliminating multiple emails; all of my calendars sync through the cloud to iCal on my phone, laptop and iPad.

At Robyn, we use Basecamp for project management. We use this to collaborate on projects with clients, share files and general traffic coordinating and communication. For product sourcing, we use ESP and our ERP is Profitmaker with Fulfillment; for shipping, UPS with Worldship. For our company emailed newsletters we use Emma and for our website, LightCMS.

For minor image editing, I use Adobe Fireworks CS5. For writing, I love iA Writer as it syncs to the cloud, enabling me to make edits on my laptop, iPhone or iPad with access to the latest version at all times. It also has a far more intuitive keyboard than the standard keyboard. Other software:

  • Typepad (blog) and MailChimp (email newsletter) for Branded Matters
  • WordPress for Smarketer and PromoKitchen
  • Day One for the rare occasion when I remember to Journal
  • Hootsuite for social media
  • Reeder for feed reading on the desktop and iPhone but I prefer Mr. Reader for the iPad (LOVE Mr. Reader, one of my favorite apps)
  • DropBox for sharing files (most groups/associations I'm involved with use Dropbox though I'll sometimes use Google, particularly if Graham is involved)
  • Audio Hijack Pro + Skype for recording podcasts
  • Spotify for music (best rabbit-hole on the web); the premium version gives me more opportunities to plow through all the songs Danny Rosin forwards me; plus, when you log several hours running every week, you need a heavily rotated playlist so as not to scream from boredom)
  • Garageband for podcast editing
  • Hipmunk for flight planning
  • SalesCalc app for quick margin/mark-up and percentage calculations on the iPhone (heavily used, highly recommended)
  • Audible for audiobooks
  • iBooks and Kindle (iPhone and iPad) for digital books
  • Nike+ app for logging runs
  • SplashID for passwords (been using this app since the early Treo days)

There are many more (obsessive foodie apps like Epicurious and Appetites, Yelp for restaurants, Longform for essay discovery), but I think I have to draw the line somewhere, else I'll bore you with all my photography apps.

How about you? What tools do you use?