As a CMO a day and half a week and company culture and strategy consultancy leader, I use a number of different tools to help keep on top of my work and help me to stay productive and on top of upcoming meetings and coaching sessions.
I am often asked about what tools I use and if I have any recommendations. I thought it would be useful to share in a dedicated blog post.
Here is my tech-stack, I am a mac user and iPhone user so the majority of these are available for Windows and Android phones.
📲 Video Calls
Deeplink for video calls, it can be a nightmare to manage all the different calendars and quickly grab the right URL for video calls. Meeter helps to centralise, remind and deep link straight into the right software or URL. Pricesless when you have back to backs or different clients on different software.
I like to centralise all activity onto my MacBook, this is a personal preference so I have attempted to shift as many calls, mentoring sessions and coaching calls onto FaceTime over Zoom, this helps clients go for walk and talks and allows flexibility with making notes when required.
FaceTime audio also helps me use my MacBook and keep my headphones in so no need to keep searching around for my phone or the right headphones. FWIW I strongly recommend using headphones with all phone calls, video calls etc, the echo and background noise without headphones is a nightmare for both parties.
Zoom is something we will live in, some see it as CCTV but others see it as the only way they can keep in touch with their colleagues by seeing their faces and their reactions.
Circles is a great tool that sit on top of Zoom and opens as your default app on Zoom meetings. It enables the attendees as bubbles (floating heads on the top of your screen) and allows you to see everyone speaking and see the presentation or continue with reading documents and finding answers vs the default Zoom view which is controlled by others not you. I highly recommend Circle with agency meetings, with larger internal meetings and a way to concentrate and amend the size of the attendees head etc.
As a solo business consultancy owner and CMO/CGO, I don’t always have a need for large video calls. Free zoom, meet and FaceTime are all good options but I have been using whereby in recent weeks and it’s a great alternative. Great quality for up to 4 people for free, I have not had an issue with the video or audio. There are two other options for premium services but if you have had enough of other alternatives or have a need for a high-quality product Whereby is well worth a signup.
Two things that we have all realised, cameras on laptops are poor quality, fuzzy and frustrating, seeing your colleagues clearly is essential and good audio makes and breaks meeting attention.
Thankfully my girlfriend brought me a dedicated USBC webcam the Logitech streamcam, it is crystal clear HD, has a good mic inbuilt and streams by default in HD. It works well with FaceTime, with Google Meets, Zoom, Whereby and Zoom. There are not many other good webcams available, and I have found it really helps me and was a talking point for many people who said how clear my video is.
Always remember: headphones make and break remote and hybrid meetings.
📆 Calendar Management
centralise calendars – I have four different email and calendar providers, if it wasn’t for Meeter and iCal it would be impossible to keep on top of everything in one place. I am unique that I deliberately break out my email clients, as you will see below.
🎧 Headphones & Mics
I cannot say how much the AirPods Pro are a step up from the AirPods, the pro’s are great and last hours, especially when you are like me and have to listen to music, mixes and podcasts while working, AirPods Pro are great on video calls and webinars. I tend to use wired headphones so they never run out on webinars, panels or remote presentations but AirPods Pro has not failed me yet.
Wired Apple headphones
I might be one of the ten per cent who has no problem with the classic and wired Apple headphones, they are durable, reliable and the mic is perfectly placed for calls, webinars, panels and when you present on remote conferences.
In the recent isolated talks I wanted to ensure I had the best audio possible, after quite a lot of research the Samson QU2 was the bundle every podcaster suggests and mic expert recommends for podcasts and easy plug and play. It’s great even in larger rooms and the sound quality and settings are easy to tweak. I have used on a number of calls and panels and works really well.
I personally prefer keynote to all other presentation options out there. It has many more customisations and allows better presenting options especially remotely vs PowerPoint or browser-based apps. It has its flaws has it is not as easy to share and collaborate however for the style, the ease and the ability to export in multiple formats you cannot go wrong.
Startup clients love slides, if I have to collaborate or co-create slides tends to be easier than shared PowerPoints. Slides is a good option if you need multiple people working on the same presentation. Be wary like I said in remote pitching advice, as it is still designed for solo demos, not multiple pitches and demos.
📧 Desktop Email
Email can be distracting and misleading of importance, Spark is a great tool if you like an intelligent mailbox that uses smart tech to notify you of important emails vs just emails. Once you use it for a couple of days, you will become an expert in shortcuts and being able to schedule emails and send quick responses. Well worth getting used to and if you prefer having all emails in one inbox, the multiple inbox mode also works well in handling notifications vs Outlook which still wants you to spend your day living inside it.
Web – Gmail
Gmail has improved recently, it is Google’s obvious play to be the centre point / the canonical option to work from. Gmail is getting smarter at filtering emails and allowing you to quickly read attachments and quick response, especially with AMP-based emails. I use different browsers for different clients, so Gmail tends to work best outside of Safari as like all Google products it resources heavy. Firefox and Chrome (or Brave) work best.
📧 Mobile Email
Outlook is by far the best mobile email app available. The customise settings are great, especially when training the app who is important and who is not. Outlook syncs very well and is my go-to app for my Focus consultancy.
Like the desktop version, I cannot sing Sparks praises enough, the multiple inbox management is definitely one of the standout features as is the integration with so many other tools, if you are out on a walk the cloud attachment options are invaluable and the makers have clearly thought of the important use cases. If you like to schedule emails Spark will be a great addition to your toolkit.
Spark is great for business or personal email management.
Mac Mail (iPhone default)
Often overlooked but a great canonical mail client, the clarity of the app is brilliant, the ability to quickly manage important emails makes it a must-have app. I personally keep for my personal emails.
I am a huge Podcast fan (podcasts vs vodcasts), I am a ‘super listener’ which means I listen to way too many. It is therefore important I use an app that helps to cut out white noise and removes the frustrating blank spots. Pocketcast is simple to use, free and manages notifications well. I love pocketcasts because of how you can share podcasts as URL’s and embed them. There are hundreds of good options but for me, Pocketcasts is the best player on the market.
I never used to listen to pods on the laptop however I have found whilst working from home I have fewer interruptions and whilst cooking etc I can play from the MacBook and take my headphones in and out, alongside if there are calls etc it will pause etc. The podcast app has improved and if you use shortcuts, and (dock menu) control + right-click you can rewind, pause and forward. The related podcasts and host information has improved this year so if you love an episode or enjoy the host it is a good tool to explore and discover other podcasts.
If you love podcasts, here is my updated podcasts I recommend and update weekly
📝 Notes Taking
I am a huge believer in note-taking, having your own knowledge centre and keeping an internal personal wiki, note-taking is an art form that many people need just do not realise how important a note, a log or history of ideas and thoughts can benefit them personally and professionally. Having any structure in notes is invaluable, being able to link the notes together and have hierarchies is going to level up your operational skills and your professional career.
Notion is your one-stop-shop for notes and organised notes. I am a huge fan of what Notion has done and how they have made a tool that answers so many problems alongside helps you take quick or detailed notes in seconds. I tend to use Notion for more detailed and structured notes, especially around clients, the CEO or CMO mentorship clients I have and the ability share these notes as documents, PDF’s or a client area.
It can be free but the small business option provides great storage. Their YouTube channel and templates will become invaluable if you dedicated some time to Notion. Notion is what every good product should be:
easy to learn, easy to use, easy to share.
Their iPhone widget is brilliant and if you have a team or department and struggle with knowledge centres before, Notion is the tool to roll out, train very briefly and see knowledge become more accessible, searchable and less hidden or hoarded.
I love apple notes simplicity and the ability to share quick and snappy notes. I personally use Apple Notes for quick ideas, concepts, to do and a listen of information I need to do or share. One feature that many overlooks is the scanning feature and ability to save PDF’s centrally from downloading on your mobile. Then iCloud will give you a log of important files and PDF’s vs trying to find them in numerous different devices and folders.
Apple notes are definitely one of my most-used apps and something I couldn’t live without. I will often start in Apple Notes and move to Notion when needs more thought or more connection. Even with the other more detailed notes products available,
Apple Notes has always won over others for me, especially paired with Notion.
If you have any great tools or something I missed in my tech stack, happily let me know by clicking the button below