The tools I use...

(updated Jan 2024)
I am a productivity geek and like to be efficient.  I also love exploring how software, tools, processes, playbooks…can improve my life.  Below is a list of tools, mostly software, that I use to be more productive.  I try lots of things, keep some, and retire plenty.  If you have great productivity tools you use and love, shoot me an email with a suggestion.

Workflowy – I work on lots of different projects.  I make a ton of lists (personal and professional), and Workflowy is the best solution I’ve found to keep me organized.  The real key is the ability to expand/collapse and nest the lists/bullets.  So, I can start at the highest level with a simple view and keep drilling down into projects, tasks, meeting summaries, action items…It works well for teams too (good sharing) and we used Workflowy at Rival IQ for years for our sprint planning process. Combining @name (who is working on X), hashtags for different functions (e.g. #design) and search makes it very powerful. I am still heavily dependent on it in 2024, and now it is a core part of my workflow with my EA.  Below is an example from a shared space with my EA.

Calendly – This is an amazing way to save the overhead of scheduling meetings via email.  Once connected to Google Calendar, the service generates a shareable link ( that includes my free/busy and a way to pick a time to meet. Once booked, it generates a calendar invite for the attendees (need to do this in settings).  My EA was able to fine-tune it even more to include the location options( Zoom, at my office, outside the office). We’ve also added a few more questions that help me prepare better for meetings. It's really awesome, I still love it!

Text Expander –  Automate common responses and save tons of typing with just a few keystrokes.  My favorite “expansion” is used to schedule meetings.  When someone asks to meet me, I type “acal” (you can make up your own shortcuts) and “You can pick a good time that works best for you here –  I have also copied my assistant, Sha.  If it’s easier for you to suggest a few times that work for you.” is inserted into my mail in seconds.  A combination of Text Expander and Calendly.  Sweetness.  I have many other expansions for common responses or follow–up items.  I have the mobile version too (as an added keyboard). TextExpander saves me hours/week. 

ActiveWords – This one is a text expansion tool, but right now, it is Windows only. Made by my very good friend, Buzz Bruggeman. My EA uses this and loves it a lot. A few differences between Workflowy and ActiveWords.




Snippet customization



Program launching



Snippet sharing




macOS, Windows, iOS, Chrome

Windows only

Language support

Multiple languages

English only

Clay– This is an excellent "personal CRM" for your personal and professional network! It combines key features of Gist (a company I started and sold to Blackberry in 2011), Refresh, contacts, and social media links management. It has AI-generated summaries for your contacts, gives you a rundown of your day, and provides social updates for your contacts in your network. The tagging and search functions (by category, by location…) are powerful too.  If you want to engage, manage, or grow your professional network, Clay is a great tool. I am a very small angel investor in Clay via the Logos fund.

Prepared – Prepared was a good example of a side project between me and my friend Ed Parsons, an awesome software developer living in SF.  A few years before Clay was even launched, I was using Prepared to get an email summary for the day’s meetings in my inbox at 0600 AM. It shows new people I’m meeting, where I might need more research time, missing meeting locations and meeting summaries. We still work on this project from time to time so if you have suggestions or want to work with us to make it better, shoot me an email. Below is a sample Prepared daily summary. – The all-in-one tool for meeting summaries and AI note-takers! Another product where I am an investor via PSL. This is very comprehensive and customizable. AI note-taking helps me focus on the conversion and the right questions to ask. Also, you can just let your EA know to pull up a recording and check for the exact point in the discussion without having them listen through the whole conversation. And, if you know what Read is “listening for” you can get the summaries to be even better.  For example, I often summarize a meeting with “So, I’m taking the action item to do XX, and you are going to do YY…” and then Read gets these well outlined in the written summary, ending up in my inbox or with me EA.

Miro – I've been an absolute fan of mind maps since the early 2000s, and right now, Miro fulfills the need for a web-based, collaborative, and easy-to-use mind-mapping tool. A must-have for people who want to hash out an idea and iterate on it, either alone or with a bunch of people.  I also keep “vision boards,” (it's good to have dreams), screen captures, and other visual collections on other Miro boards.

Ramp – Revolutionizing business finance management! It's an all-in-one financial platform offering smart corporate cards and automated solutions for expense tracking, procurement, and accounts payable. Tailored for businesses big and small, it syncs seamlessly with accounting systems such as Quickbooks and scans your inbox for documents/receipts. I update my expenses once. It takes care of the recurring ones on its own, and no more overhead on you or your EA to go hunting for bills/invoices every month. And when I charge something, Ramp texts me, and then I text it back with the details.  My friend Shane has at least 3 of these for his different businesses. Amazing!!

Taskboard and Google Tasks –  A really powerful combo to have you and your EA ,on the same page. Google Tasks is great on its own but the only drawback is that it doesn’t allow you to share your list with someone. Taskboard fills that gap and does some more. You can create shareable Boards, and under your Boards, you have Lists. (Nifty little thing to share tasks). Once your Boards are shared, you can directly mark emails as tasks from your inbox or tag someone on Gsheets and Gdocs. Only con: syncing is a pain. You have to manually sync or keep the Taskboard tab/website/app open always for syncing to be seamless. 

Ghost – One of the smaller companies giving a run for the money to the likes of WordPress and Wix. It was a pain to deliver my content over my blog because WordPress is finicky with its updates. Every time there was an update, things would break. It was frustrating for me and my EA to even get into the website at one point. Exporting the data was a pain too. Honestly, I have no idea how this company is still around. On a recommendation from my very close friends, I decided to move to Ghost. This has been, by far, the best platform in terms of publishing textual content. I don’t need additional plugins to manage subscriptions, payment platforms, and newsletters. Everything is in-built and relatively easy to set up. Almost plug-and-play. I say almost because the themes are slightly painful to work with the design nuances. Other than that, it’s a 9/10.

EA , WhatsApp, and Voice Memos: You must have read in this post about how my EA has been helping me with so many things (there will be a standalone post soon about how an EA can make you efficient). If your EA is highly trained, relatively tech-friendly, and experienced, it's like having a Swiss Army knife. You can, quite literally, transfer things in your head to theirs. Just send them a voice note via WhatsApp. Do you want your calendar to be taken care of? Send them a voice note. Are you running short on time and want to send an email? Send them a voice note to draft one. Want a blog post drafted? Dictate a post via a voice note. To be efficient and not spend time listening to voice notes, my EA has a free speech-to-text setup, too. If you want an EA for yourself, drop me and/or my EA ( an email, and he will contact you.

A Virtual Assistant/Executive Assistant (VA/EA): Having an EA makes you probably 2x, 3x, or even 5x more efficient. I have been experimenting with different EAs and services for years. Here are a few solutions I think you should try.

  • Wishup: My current go-to for anyone looking for a high-quality VA/EA. You can drop me and/or my EA ( an email, and he will get in touch with you to expedite the process and will personally advocate for you to recruit one of the higher-quality VAs/EAs. The VAs/EAs are based in multiple countries (even the USA) but I am pretty sure you can get one to work in your timezone. My current EA, Sha, was hired via Wishup and is based in India but works with me in the Pacific Timezone. You can buy 1/2 time or a full-time EA for about $1800/month.
  • Squared Away: Another one of my favorites. I’ve used their services in the past and was really happy with them. Their unique selling point is that they hire only US-based Military Spouses and are really good with their services. Slightly different on the pricing since you will be hiring US citizens and you are given a certain number of hours
  • DOXA: Founded and run by a very close friend of mine David Nilssen. This is traditionally a talent outsourcing company majorly hiring from the Philippines, but they do have hiring options from the USA. They have a great corporate structure and are focused on other areas of outsourced talent besides VA/EA services. I am on the Board here.

Sanebox – “automagically” moves less important emails from my inbox to another folder for later reading.  I like it, but the training on the filters takes some time. Try it out –

LastPass – keep all my passwords in one place.  Share sites/passwords with others, including your EA, without actually giving them your password.  I like the web app, desktop, and iPhone apps that sync with each other. I know they have had some security issues, so I am evaluating 1Password, but the migration seems like a pain.

Rival IQ – I’m one of the founders, so I am biased.   Rival IQ is best for active, digital marketers who want to compare/contrast their activities against others, like their competition or other companies they admire.  I have many collections of companies that I track, so I’m always on top of most current marketing tactics and best content. Check out some of Benchmark Studies and sample “landscapes” for many different industries.   If you want to sign up and get a discount, go here.

Tripit – awesome for planning and keeping track of travel on web and mobile.  Go “Pro” and get push alerts on changes to my itinerary.  I also create/subscribe to a Google Calendar so I can see all my travel details in my schedule.  Handy.

Pay by Phone – pay parking meters with my phone.  Gives me a reminder when the meter is running out and I can refresh in <15 seconds.  A small service fee ($0.35) applies, but it’s worth it.

MacBook Pro 16″ (32 GB RAM) – Still the best machine, upgraded this year from the last MacBook Pro.

reMarkable tablet  – Want to take notes physically but be connected digitally? The reMarkable 2 is a great bridge between analog and digital. It's designed to boost productivity by reducing distractions, with features like a long battery life and efficient organization tools. Great for doodling and focused brainstorming without the distractions of notifications on your phone and desktop/laptop. You can use this link to get a $40 discount.

Quantified self – I’m still exploring the tools and techniques, but here’s a start;

SleepTime – great for tracking my sleep patterns.  Just place it under my pillow, and it does the rest.  I also use this to keep track of my resting heart rate, measured when I wake up.  If/when my HR goes up by >10%, I know my body is under stress, and I’m at risk of getting sick.  I have been using the “notes” feature to capture what I can remember about my dreams. #restmore

Tools I loved, but they were acquired and/or have since been shut down.

Gist – see social updates for all my contacts inside Gmail, Outlook, iPhone, Android and Blackberry (Acquired by Blackberry in 2011. Weep, I was a founder here)

Tungle – share my calendar free/busy and let other people schedule time with me (Blackberry bought them too in 2011)

ThinkFuse – super simple status reports – build your tribe (acquired by Salesforce).  You should still be thinking about status updates.

Refresh – very much like Gist for iPhone (sigh).  It integrates with my Google Calendar and creates rich social profiles (photos, background, interests, shared connections…) for my contacts before each meeting.

Restwise – helps me track my physical recovery states and when I should rest or train harder.

Zeo sleep monitor (Retired and replaced with Sleep Time)  – still getting used to this as I got it in April, but trying to get a full night when the headband stays on and my iPhone stays charged… optimistic that this will pay dividends.  Be sure to check your data on the website vs. only the phone as they have more data and suggestions there. (update) – found little use in the data and looked too weird.

Retired – These are things I used to have but don’t use anymore (so I won’t update notes).

Full Contact – (Retired and replaced with ) “the one address book to rule them all” – automatically brings together all my contacts, removes duplicates, adds social handles/data and then syncs across sources (Gmail, mac, iPhone…).  Powerful for anyone with a big address book.  I used to be on the board here, so especially fond of the team and product.

Evernote – note-taking on all platforms.  I love how it syncs between my iPhone and my Mac and I can easily “clip” stuff from the web for later review/organization.  And, I’m using the integration with Feedly too, so when I find an article I need to save, I clip it into Evernote.

Feedly – (RSS reader) – the best way I’ve found (Mac and iPhone) to gather lots of different RSS feeds together, then read and share efficiently.  I have multiple categories (marketing, health, local news…) and with the aid of Buffer, I can spend focused time reading and then my sharing queue is full.

IFTTT – a very powerful way to combine actions and automate routine functions.  For example, “every time someone signs up for my blog, send me an email”.  You can easily create powerful “recipes” for many cool things.  Another recipe I use often “when I tag something in Feedly, send an email to a list with the contents of the post” that keeps my teams informed. #automation

Buffer – allows me to post content to multiple social networks at the same time.  I have a personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and channels for Rival IQ too.  When I’m reading on my Mac or my iPhone (via Feedly), I can easily post to multiple networks with one action.   Buffer also provides a handy “scheduling” tool so I can add lots of content and it posts at my prescribed or optimal times.

Dropbox – simple file sharing between all my machines and mobile devices.

Boomerang Calendar  (Retired and replaced with Calendly) – integrated with Gmail, I can easily send potential meeting times to an email recipient.  They can see my suggested times, pick one that works, see my schedule and other open times…very handy.  And, when they choose one of the suggested times, it gets added to my calendar.  Nice job from my friend Alex Moore.

Garmin 305 GPS watch (Retired, my Fitbit is good enough)  – I use this on my biking and running.  Works pretty well and I like the heart–rate monitor.  I wish I could get the data out and into another app like Gdocs to correlate and track with other things.

Streak (Retired and replaced with – CRM built right into Gmail – powerful.  Nice UX and lets me set up multiple “boxes” for different groups of people I need to track (investors, partners, customers, influencers).  Then collects all their email and attachments in one place and lets me easily see and move people along a sales cycle.  Also has email tracking (I know when my prospect is viewing my emails) and snippets (automates repetitive messages).  I am comparing this to Yesware (Ok, but my interest is waning due to Streak, but they have better Salesforce integration) and Stride (not as clean and easy for me, but similar).

Kiss Metrics (retired, just not doing this work anymore, not sure what best solutions are in this space) – super useful reporting tools for the product.  Getting a little expensive now, but still great for knowing what is actually happening with users and the app.

Fitbit Surge (moved to Apple Watch, but not very happy with that either)– really like the real–time heart rate monitoring.  GPS enabled running/cycling watch is pretty weak but good enough.  Step tracking is fun but not overly valuable.

Intercom –(No longer using this) It was an awesome way to keep track of our new users and funnel.  With Full Contact integration on the back end, we get a good sense of each new users social profile and can customize how we interact with them. Also very handy for testing different kinds of messages during our free trial.  For example, “once a user has added 5 companies, send him this email” or “after 3 days of inactivity, send him this email”…Really nice UX too.

Map my Run – iPhone tracking.  I used it mostly for running as my iPhone battery does not last long enough for rides.  Pretty good social integration and I’m liked the “live tracking” feature which was cool for races and/or for Teresa to find me if she needed to pick me up at the end of long rides.

I still want/need a solution for…

Social Product Recommendation service – I want a service that helps me make this whole page, alerts me when other smart people start using new apps like the ones I have.  I am trying Best Vendor and Product Hunt, but there is no social integration or alerting. 

For any of these, I am happy to collaborate on building a solution and love doing side projects. – .