Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

Every Tuesday, I write.

I share an idea I’ve come up with, a struggle I’m wrestling with, a puzzle I’m turning over in my head, or a story that I think the world needs to hear. You can sign up to get these emailed to you each Tuesday morning by clicking here

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Posts tagged iPhone
The Hardest Thing About Parenting Today

I'm sure parenting was never easy. So, it's not like parents today have it harder than their parents did (or their parents did). Sure, maybe we have to lock our doors now and the threat of nuclear annihilation hangs over all our heads, but parenting a child is still fraught with challenges, whether it's a Cave Mom teaching her son to share rocks or it's a Soccer Mom teaching her daughter to share iPods. For me, the hardest thing about being a parent in 2012 is this:

To put down my f**king phone.

It's not that I'm texting friends when I should be playing Legos, or that I'm checking email when I should be reading about Curious George. When your phone is a camera and a voice recorder and a video camera and a photo editor and a blogging tool and a way to tell all the grandparents what's going on, the natural instinct is to get it all on tape (surely that expression is on it's way out). Let me record every tower, every costume, every utterance, I think, so that she'll have one heck of a rehearsal dinner video one day.

My parents didn't have the challenge of having to parent with a 4" connection to the world in their hands. Cameras were trotted out on vacation or at ballgames, never for lining up Little People or naming stuffed animals.

I don't think I can be a great parent if my daughter begins to think half of my face is usually blocked by a magical rectangle that has the ability to bring her Elmo on demand.

Dollhouse

A few weeks ago, I wrote (in one of my most popular posts ever):

Parenting – and life – happens in between online posts and updates. It happens when we least expect it. And when it does, when those memorable moments of teaching and learning and being happen, the best thing we can do is put down our phone and live as deeply and authentically as we can in that moment.

Capturing everything so we can tweet it and share it and edit it isn't living. I don't care how second nature our phone or computer usage has become or how more connected (is that even possible?) my daughter will be when she's a mom. When the need to record or document becomes greater than my need to be present, I've become more journalist than dad. 

That's not what I signed up for.

Here's to putting down our phones today until Grandma calls.

How I Travel

I'm hitting the road today, heading to Texas for a few days to keynote the National School Foundation Association annual conference. Next week I head to Alabama for a day. Between now and the end of the year, I'm headed to Las Vegas, Florida four times, and probably Texas again. In other words, I get around. While others are much more warrior-like than me when it comes to being on the road, here's a snapshot of how I travel in order to save money, take what I need, and save time:

One rolling suitcase and a small bag

No one likes checking bags. You'll usually pay extra fees and you only add time to your journey as you wait for bags to pop up on the carousel. If you travel often, invest in a good rolling suitcase - something lightweight yet sturdy, with a large exterior pocket and expandable zipper when you need the extra storage.

A good, small bag is also a necessity for your laptop or smaller items that you'll need when in your destination city. It'll also fit under the seat in front of you on a plane for easy access. When walking through the terminal, it can sit on your rolling bag for an easier walk to/from your aircraft. Bottom line: your luggage should make travel easier, not more difficult.

My SCOTTEVEST

I got a SCOTTEVEST last year for my birthday and no single item has made travel easier. The vest has multiple hidden pockets for your iPhone, wallet, keys, headphones, travel documents, or quite literally anything else you want on your person. The best part is that when you go through security, you just slip off the vest and you're done. No need to empty your pants pockets and then pull your phone out and then your change and then remember where you put it all.

PowerBars

I think they're delicious (some people don't), so I usually pack 3 or 4 PowerBars for each trip. When in a bind (delayed flight, no good places to eat, restaurants are closed), they can serve as a meal replacement or a hearty snack. Find out which energy bar you like and take a few. It beats paying $3.00 at the airport for a Snickers, and it'll keep you happy during a layover (McDonald's won't, trust me) or after a long day at a conference.

One pair of shoes, one outfit per day

Some people can't fathom fitting everything for a trip into a single rolling suitcase. These people pack too much. I understand that some days, you don't know what to wear until you get up and look in your closet, but that shouldn't be the case on the road. Just pack one outfit per day. Then, when you wake up, you'll know what to wear because you won't have any choice but to wear what you packed. Limited choice can be a good thing sometimes.

Also pack only one pair of shoes that can go with every outfit. People who go somewhere for three days and bring 12 pairs of shoes aren't allowed to travel with me. I wear a comfortable pair of shoes for transit and walking around; I take another for the event, most often my brown, sturdy Kenneth Coles that go with jeans, khakis, and corduroys.

A good rule of thumb: count how many days you'll be gone and pack that many shirts. There's no need to bring extra. "But what if I spill something?" you ask. You have two options: 1) Get better at not spilling; 2) Look for the nearest one-hour dry-cleaners.

Tripit

As I've said before, Tripit is the best app when it comes to keeping track of travel plans. Go get the free version. Now.

Magazines

If you subscribe to magazines, save them for when you travel. I've got a stack of four I'm taking with me today. They're the perfect thing to read when taxiing or below 10,000 ft. And they also come in handy when stuck in an airport and can be a welcome diversion from staring at a glowing screen. What else am I going to look at? Skymall?

Rewards cards

If you are not earning rewards with every purchase or reservation while away, you are wasting money. Did Ryan Bingham teach you nothing? Even if you only fly once a year, start earning frequent flyer miles. Get hotel and rental car points. Those things can be redeemed, people. And even if you travel rarely now, things can change in an instant and you'll be up the air more often before you know it.

What about you?

What do you travel with (other than a dozen pair of shoes)? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

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Tools of the Trade

Grace Boyle recently wrote about what tools she uses or has had recommended to her to better manage her work or life. Read her post for a full list of new, cool apps and online tools. I thought I'd follow suit and make a list of the stuff I use regularly to do what I do (write, speak, travel, and help run two companies and advise a handful of others). Click around and who knows? You may find something that saves you time, money, or both!

  • Evernote - I tried it a year ago and it didn't catch on. Then, I read an article about the company and was intrigued by the possibilities. Now, I use Evernote to keep track of everything from blog post ideas, articles and stats for speeches, and even gift lists for family and friends. Most useful is the iPhone app for notes on the go.
  • Gmail and Google Apps - I still use and love Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader. Both of my companies (Cool People Care and Proof Branding) use the Google suite, including Google Voice.
  • TripIt - No better travel app exists to keep track of all my plans. It's as easy to organize as forwarding an email.
  • Wordpress - My personal blog, CoolPeopleCare.org, and ProofBranding.com all use Wordpress.
  • Wufoo - Contact forms are easy (and cheap) to build and maintain. The days of contact pages just listing email addresses are over.
  • Rafflecopter - Thanks to Grace, I found this beauty and have suggested it to many people. If you run contests on your site, use Rafflecopter. Setting up, running, and picking a winner for a contest has never been easier, especially if you want an easy way to include entry options like tweets or people who follow you.
  • HootSuite - This is how I manage two Twitter accounts and three Facebook pages. I plan out tweets and posts sometimes up to 30 days out. I still use the free version.
  • Shopify - Cool People Care's store is built on Shopify, which keeps improving. It's an easy and efficient way to set up your own online store.
  • Dropbox - Hands down, the best way to store files in the cloud. I put my large presentation files here so I can get to them no matter where I am or what machine I'm using.
  • Flipboard - If you have an iPad or iPhone, get Flipboard and you'll marvel at how fun it is to read nearly anything online, including your Facebook news feed.
  • Alice - You can skip trips to the store because Alice delivers home goods to your door. Best of all, they keep track of the brands you use and can send you reminders when they think you're nearly out.
  • OpenTable - Want to make sure you have reservations to your favorite restaurant? OpenTable can handle it.
  • Kayak - The easiest way to search flights, especially if you have tight travel windows like I do and takeoff/landing times are important.
  • Uber - It's not available in all cities, but if you're in a city with Uber and you use it, you will immediately wish that all taxis were the same.
  • Pandora - Because when I write, sometimes it's a Jay-Z kind of day, and sometimes it's a Taylor Swift kind of day. Seriously.
  • MailChimp - The easiest, most affordable, most foolproof way to send emails. Cool People Care uses it to send over 125,000 emails a month, and at Proof, we recommend them to nearly every client.
  • QuickBooks - I started using it because my accountant prefers it. I keep using it because it's a fantastic web-based way to track all financial records and invoicing.
  • Square - Selling books at a conference is super easy (and sometimes fun) with Square. It's also easy to take a credit card payment over the phone.

What about you?

What tools do you use in your personal or professional life to be more productive and keep track of stuff? Share in the comments below and let's get a good list going together.

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Going On Record

Our devices are becoming increasingly complex. By embracing this, we'll realize that never before have we been able to capture so much in order to help us remember for so long. Very rarely do we now have to say, "I wish I had my camera" because our cell phone - which we never leave home without - lets us capture anything we'd like on record. It's time we leverage this tool for more than recording poorly lit stage performers or funny license plates. It's time we showcased some vulnerability and made some memories with those we love. Case in point:Make a Great MemoryMake a Great MemoryMake a Great MemoryMake a Great Memory

What good are these tools if they don't bring us closer to the people we love? What good is being more productive if we don't use our newly saved time by making memories?

Get on camera. Be silly. Look back and laugh.

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