The Leitz brand was a storied German brand for over 100 years. For the launch of the Leitz brand in North America, there was no brand awareness in the region and it needed to be positioned in the market.
The strategy positioned Leitz as a brand of products designed to help you work smarter, not harder. Adding the tagline “Speed of Leitz” to introduce the pronunciation of the foreign name. The product portfolio was Mobile Accessories, Wireless Label Printing and brightly colored desktop accessories all at premium pricing with a patented feature-set to differentiate from competitors.
The thought leadership strategy aimed to give these products a soft place to land, tap into the mobile worker and business traveller audience who are looking for new ways to get a leg up on the next guy. I wrote several articles that were syndicated through Entrepreneur.com. These were written in the voice of North American President, Philip Damiano.
The Road Warrior’s Weapon of Choice: The Tablet Computer
The laptop’s reign as the de facto business tool of mobile workers is at an end. Both the Microsoft Surface and iPad Air are portable devices that provide ample computing power to keep workers productive whether they’re flying over the Atlantic or beside a road in Idaho. They are exponentially less expensive than the typical laptop.
As great as they are and as much as Microsoft’s latest advertising would like you to believe, tablets are not battle ready right out of the box. The following are a few gadgets you may need on business trips to make a full-time switch from a bulky laptop:
On-screen typing is fine for banging out text messages but not conducive to long-form business writing. Unless you’re using a Surface, which has its own keyboard, you’ll probably want to purchase keyboard to maximize your words per minute in transit.
On the road, productivity lives and dies by a device’s battery. Plugging away all day on a tablet will drain the battery, so routine and opportunistic charging should be done as much as possible.
There will be times when an outlet is nowhere in sight or you simply don’t want to be a wall hugger. In these moments, a reliable backup device charger is worth its weight in gold. I can remember a time when most batteries on the market couldn’t charge faster than my iPhone would drain the battery. Advances in mobile charging technology have come a long way in the past five years.
Battery choices now include options for huge capabilities, slimmer profiles and lightweight devices. I suggest finding a 5,000 milliampere hour to 10,000 milliampere hour battery (it should give you three to four charges) in a lightweight slim profile to keep your bags lighter and so you never get caught in the field without a charge.
MOBILE HOT SPOT.
Without the storage capabilities of a laptop, mobile workers are forced to rely on Internet connectivity to power the apps they need to conduct business. Resist the urge to use public Wi-Fi available at cafes and restaurants. They’re hacker heaven. Instead, provide your own safe passage to the Internet with a secure mobile hot spot.
Those that rarely travel have it easy. They can tether their 3G- or 4G-enabled phone to facilitate that connection. For the frequent flier, this isn’t a long-term solution. I like the Karma Hotspot because it fits easily into my pocket, supports as many as eight devices and comes with an affordable pay-as-you-go pricing structure.
When doing business on the road, you want fellow travelers to mind their own business. While it’s highly unlikely that someone from a major competitor will be sidled up next to you on a plane or train, remember that you may be working with sensitive information in a public space. This is why it’s terrific to have a case with the ability to hide this information when needed but not relegating the tablet to always be in privacy mode. (My company, Esselte, makes one such case under its Leitz brand.)
Tablets are great for consuming media while away from home, but when reading company financials or anything of that ilk, it’s best to play it safe than sorry. A solid privacy case will block your screen from prying eyes while retaining touchscreen functionality.
One of the primary benefits of tablet computers is how customizable they are, thanks to the millions of apps in the Apple, Google and Microsoft marketplaces. The vast majority of businesses leverage apps or cloud-based productivity tools to keep their global employees plugged in. Here are a few I recommend you explore:
DropBox is the easiest way to store critical documents. Don’t carry around printouts or huge binders. Just hook up the tablet to the hotel’s business center and print items as needed.
OneTask is a cool new app that is part to-do list and part drill instructor. Working out of the office can make it difficult to maintain focus and keep on top of high-priority items. OneTask runs on a concept called “singletasking,” which calls for the worker to focus on one thing at a time rather than constantly shifting priorities and projects. OneTask streamlines your work flow to help you realize success.
Isn’t it terrible to come home after a long business trip to dirty laundry and dishes? Alfred Club can help remove that stress. This service lets travelers find a local ambassador in the neighborhood to take care of their place. It can arrange for picking up dry cleaning, having laundry done, buying groceries, house cleaning and other valuable services.
Are there other gadgets or apps I missed that help make a tablet an indispensable tool?
4 Steps to Stop Soul-Sucking Meetings
Meetings are a corporate oxymoron: an essential practice that generates groundbreaking ideas but also sucks the life out of a workforce. Employees waste away in conference rooms trying to pay attention to others give languorous presentations on mind-numbingly boring TPS reports and listening to overviews with no impact on his or her job function. Don’t do this to your employees.
Here are four key considerations you can use to keep co-workers engaged and productive.
As the familiar adage goes, time is money. Every tick of the clock reflects in your company’s bottom line. Indeed, meetings can cost companies between $250 and $1,100 per week, according to a post in Bloomberg.
Meetings are major investments and should be expected to create a substantial return. Before holding a meeting, ask yourself if the opportunity cost of conducting the meeting is worth it — will the benefits exceed the cost? MeetingKing has a handy cost calculator to help you make that determination.
Additionally, meetings should be no longer than 45 minutes, as humans focus best within that timeframe. If the agenda clearly looks to take longer (it shouldn’t unless there are special circumstances), split the meeting into 45-minute periods with a rest in between.
HAVE AN AGENDA THAT MAKE SENSE.
Not only do meetings take time, but they also impact the way we manage our time. Seventy-three percent of professionals admit to doing unrelated work in meetings, according to research from Wolf Management Consultants Workers don’t have time to complete their tasks because of a packed schedule and instead are wasting others’ efforts by not contributing to group discussions.
Consider the frequency with which meetings are called around a specific project. Do you really need daily status updates or can it be shifted to weekly? Meetings take people out of their workflow and promote procrastination. Most workers see the half hour before and after meetings as dead time, because there isn’t enough time to dig into work tasks. People trying to work within this timeframe often show up late which only lengthens meeting times.
BE SELECTIVE ON WHO ATTENDS THE MEETING.
Only invite people capable of contributing to the discussion. This way, employees feel valued and are more likely to positively engage in the discussion.
Management must communicate the goals and logic behind the shift. People who used to attend meeting may panic when their schedules open up. Employees need to understand that their time is more valuable than their presence at every meeting. Management is giving people more time to complete their work task — not diluting their value to the company. In fact, fewer meetings should increase interoffice communications and keep everyone informed.
DETERMINE IF YOU REALLY NEED THE MEETING.
This is the ultimate question people should ask themselves. We live in a world of Skype, email, Wikis and a million other collaboration tools. These tools do not make all meetings irrelevant — particularly for those involving problem solving, brainstorming and other types of creative thinking — but they can be used to free up quite a bit of time if used effectively.
We’ve lost sight of the purpose of meetings. What started as a simple means to gather people to solve major problems has devolved into an overused tool that is draining morale. People should look forward to an opportunity to collaborate with their co-workers, not dread them. Scaling back on meetings makes people more efficient and happy. By implementing the above strategies, employees will spend less time muttering under their breath about soul-sucking meetings and more time invested in doing work that will help your business soar.
Warm up your Brain Before Work and Other Time Savers
The daily commute takes 25.5 minutes each way for the average American and is generally a mindless trudge. This can result in workers showing up to the office groggy and unprepared. Rather than diving into their workload, they make their first move with a visit to Starbucks, draining the company of some productivity right at the start.
The brain should be treated like the muscles in the body before a strenuous workout: Warm it up before doing heavy lifting. The morning commute is the perfect time to perform some cranial jumping jacks so as to hit the ground running upon arriving at work.
An entrepreneur can do the following activities to enhance the day’s productivity. While it might not be feasible to perform all five during a single morning commute, try to do at least two to stimulate different parts of the brain.
There’s no better way to begin the workday than knowing exactly which tasks will be tackled upon arrival at work. On any given day, most people have multiple projects and myriad deadlines. The morning commute provides a unique opportunity to visualize, organize and prioritize activities before the inevitable deluge of emails and phone calls.
A staggering number of “to-do” list apps are available but I recommend Carrot for its gamification approach to meeting deadlines. Those who drive to work can enlist speech-to-text app Dragon Dictation, which records voice memos that can be translated into text. That’s a way to safely prepare for the day while behind the wheel.
The morning commute is also the perfect time to think about major problems. Some believe that the creative mind peaks early in the day, so use the commute to mull fresh, inventive approaches to road blocks.
Taking advantage of the commute to listen rather than talk is conducive to having a productive workday. Turning on a favorite Spotify playlist is a perfect way to rev up the neurons and pump up the energy during a drive-time commute. Discover a podcast that stimulating, by checking out say, NPR’s condensed 5-minute news summaries or geek culture icons on Nerdist. A good podcast will promote engagement and critical thinking, making it easier to actively participate at those early-morning work meetings.
I will admit to having an unabashed fondness for Lumosity. The company’s brain-game app was designed by neuroscientists to train specific cognitive functions like memory and attention. All it takes is 15 minutes every morning to whip the mind into focus.
EASE INTO WORK MODE.
It seems counterintuitive but performing some low-hanging, administrative tasks doesn’t require a ton of brainpower and is a great way to ease into work mode. Accept meeting invitations, make some quick phone calls (with a Bluetooth headset if driving) and answer noncritical emails. This way, it’s possible to step into the office free of distractions and with proactive steps in mind to push important projects forward.
Maintaining successful work-life integration is important to everyone. The home can become hostile turf if smaller household tasks are overshadowed by oppressive work deadlines too often. A good time to knock things off the to-do list is in the car. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the typical American worker arrives at the office on average at about 7:55 a.m., meaning the car leaves the driveway at about 7:30 a.m.
While a major percentage of businesses are not open that early, a large portion of industries do accommodate businesspeople at that hour. Dry cleaners, auto garages, plumbers, electricians and painters are just a few of the businesses that accommodate early pickups or appointments.
Strategize about chores that can be accomplished along the commute, whether that means leaving the house 15 minutes earlier to pick up clean suits or scheduling a car-maintenance appointment during traffic gridlock.
After a long and exhausting day at the office, the last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is be sandwiched on a rush-hour subway or idling on the freeway. So wind down after a busy day at work to better enjoy the time at home by doing these activities:
Trapped in a claustrophobic subway car or SUV? If not behind the wheel, reach for a dog-eared paperback or e-reader and be anywhere at any time desired. Amazon recently unveiled its new Kindle Unlimited subscription service that makes it easier to find titles for a low monthly rate. The best part is that drivers can also take advantage of this new service because most titles come with an audio version. So grab that Jane Austen novel and join Elizabeth Bennet in 19th-century England from the comfort of an automobile or discomfort of the commuter rail.
TAKE A POWER NAP.
Hour-long naps are great but often not feasible on the typical commute. Instead, public transit commuters can try taking a 10- to 20-minute power nap so as to feel energized upon arriving home. A Boston Globe chart outlined how quick naps can elevate mood and enhance motor skills, the perfect remedy for afternoon or evening drowsiness.
Afraid to sleep through a stop? Fret no more. As the adage goes, “there’s an app for that.” Google Now lets Android users set a location-based notification to alert them upon their arrival at a specific area. Users of iOS devices can use an IFTTT recipe to achieve the same result.