I got my first real estate broker’s license in 1975. I was still in college, had hair beyond my shoulders, and just to go to real estate school I carried a full suitcase full of books, amortization tables, and something like an abucus with me. I remember taking the Licensing Exam with a #2 pencil on a scantron answer sheet. Remember those forms where you had to “fill the circle completely” or they graded it wrong? And no erasing!
I was in Engineering school at ASU around that time, and the only efficient technology tools available to me at that time were limited to two innovations from 2 different centuries:
- A slide rule
- A brand new TI calculator that cost me $300
That was it, apart from a little plastic strip called a “penny dialer” my geek “phonephreak” friend Richard Weinstein gave me which allowed me to use payphones for a penny rather than the required dime. Yes, it was dishonest, but I’ve since reformed – MagicJacks are easier today.
Today, thanks to the Internet and countless other innovations (that for the most part Americans invented), I have a veritable cornucopia of tools that keep me connected to my businesses while I travel.
How does a guy run three organizations in three locations in two hemispheres, and travel half the year? Here’s an insider’s look at the tools I use:
DEVICES I SHLEPP WITH ME:
- Vonage Phone – local phone numbers, free long distance. Plus, the easiest way to set up a new office without paying rent. This is how many of my students open satellite offices on the cheap.
- Magic Jack– plug it in, and VOIP rocks. Just like Ma Bell only without the cost. Now you can get them at Walmart.
- USB wide band– cell-based wireless Internet connectivity in pen-driver size. These are usually unique per country.
- iPhone – One touch weather, FAA reports, stock, GPS, Internet, e-mail Steely Dan hits, etc. Mine was hacked to unbrick AT&T for International use.
- CanonPowershot– to “show” what I mean digitally over the Internet
- PenDrivers– as backups of all my important things…because Airport scanners have fried my hard drives before.
- Sams’ Long distance calling card– For International calls from payphones when nothing else works.
- Kindle 2 – to carry a room full of encyclopedias in your pocket for easy reading.
ONLINE TOOLS I USE:
- WordPress – the king of blogs and what we use here;
- Twhirl – Easiest way to post, retweet, shorten URLs, and see my follower’s posts
- Twitter and TweetGrid– The social media phenomenon and a real-time way to get the latest news, industry updates and market research from feet on the street.
- FreeTranslations – For when my Spanish fails me
- TweetDeck – Because the newest version has a one-button translation feature.
- Sharepoint – Microsoft’s product adapted for our businesses that lets me communicate with our 37 contractors scattered all over the globe.
- Octos – Our own proprietary webmanagement system that David Goldstein created to let me see our business like an MRI in real-time. Can’t show you this cause it’s our secret sauce.
- Odiogo – Text-to-speech converter that allows me to “hear” blog posts RSS’s and more in a funky startrekky voice—but great when your hands are occupied. We have installed it on this blog if you want to try it.
- Zillow – replaces like six former online tools in a very slick macro view of real estate and mortgage trends; As Spencer Rascoff says, it gives me “an edge in real estate.”
Everything mentioned above goes neatly in my flight bag, along with my laptop, clothes, and other essentials, and fits in the overhead compartment of the average airline (LanChile excluded. Sorry Sebastian.) My point is, no matter where I am, my “office” goes with me.
Sure, it can get a little confusing at first with all the bells and bongs going off…my laptop screen sometimes looks like something from NASA, and many times I have tried to “answer” a blog or a twitter by reaching for one of my cellphones…but you get used to it.
Do I ever long for what I had in 1975?
No, not for a minute. Well…except for the hair. That I do miss.
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