Why? “There is a reasonable hypothesis that areas that are fertile for startups are fertile at a point in time, such as Detroit in the 1890s,” says Ed Glaeser, Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard. “Startups come, they succeed, and then it becomes progressively less friendly as the area becomes wealthier. A few dominant firms emerge and they eventually end up pushing out startups. Areas then have to find a way to reinvent themselves.”
MIT neuroscientists recently watched the brains of 63 entrepreneurs and managers, and spotted a key difference: Entrepreneurs use their whole orbitofrontal cortexes, enabling them to be more flexible problem solvers.
Writer Leo Widrich offers a sneak peek at the next wave of productivity apps that top entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Guy Kawasaki are working with daily.
Recently something terribly obvious—yet powerful—occurred to me: If you want to achieve things that no one else has done, you need to do things no one else does.
So, I thought, who achieves things that very few do? I made a list of the top 10 entrepreneurs that I learn from daily. Then I thought, which things are they doing that could really help more people? When I emailed the idea to my Fast Company editor, she came back with something I found valuable:
“One of the problems that crops up is that a lot of people get back with “I love Twitter, Dropbox, and Evernote!” Those are great tools, but might not add that much value for our readers.”
I thought that observation was spot-on. So instead, I asked my favorite entrepreneurs their absolute favorite, yet very little-known tools, they use to achieve everyday tasks.
After lots of correspondences and digging deep into these entrepreneurs’ toolkits, here are their unedited answers:
Tim Ferriss’s top tool: Jumpcut
Tim Ferriss is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim is the master of finding unique lifehacks and techniques to help you live a smarter life. The one online tool he absolutely can’t live without is Jumpcut:
“I can’t live without Jumpcut, which saves my ass all the time. Have you ever cut and pasted two or three things, and lost a hugely important thing that you cut first? Jumpcut, which is free, allows you to store (and easily retrieve) 40+ copied or cut things from your clipboard.”
Michael Hyatt’s top tool: Clicky
Michael Hyatt is the New York Times best-selling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World and he writes one of the best blogs on leadership and productivity that I know. Here is his most treasured online tool:
“My can’t-live-without online tool is Clicky.com. It’s what I use to monitor up-to-the-minute stats on all my websites. It uses Google Analytics, but presents the data in a more useful manner.”
Jay Baer’s top tool: Buffer
Ranked as one of America’s top 5 Social Media consultants and author of Youtility, Jay Baer built an incredible following as one of the most reputable and yet hype-free people in the industry. And he stays on top with the best tools all the time; his choice is Buffer (which—disclaimer time—I’m the cofounder of. Thanks, Jay!):
“Directing people to what I believe to be the most worthy social and content marketing resources every day—for years—is how I built my business. Buffer makes that process of sharing information to audiences so much easier. I can read articles in the morning and add them to my Buffer. From there articles then get posted well spaced out over the day, automatically.”
Hiten Shah’s top tool: Prismatic
One of my favorite tech entrepreneurs is Hiten Shah, cofounder of KISSmetrics, who, if you follow his Twitter feed, constantly inspires with amazing content. The one tool that he said he can’t live without is Prismatic:
“I love to find and share awesome content. Prismatic has made it easier for me to find the best content faster. Now with Prismatic, I don’t have to go to dozens of places to find useful, informative, and awesome content to share.”
Jason Calacanis’ top tool: 15Five
One of the most well-known entrepreneurs, Jason Calacanis has founded several companies to date and is now probably best known for his awesome ThisWeekInTV network. When I asked him for his favorite tool, he replied within a few minutes of sending the email without hesitation:
“15Five is my favorite app because it develops deep relationships on our teams quickly and efficiently. I liked it so much I asked to invest… and they took my money.”
Dharmesh Shah’s top tool: Pocket
There are very few people whose every step they take online I follow along with. Dharmesh, the CTO ofHubSpot, is one of them. He built a massive company with hundreds of people, and what helps him do his best work? He shared this:
“I love GetPocket.com. I’m easily distracted (I have “Hey look, interesting new article on the Internet!” syndrome). Pocket helps me stay focused by deferring things I want to read until later so I don’t break my flow.”
Seth Godin’s top tool: Keynote presenter view
Seth Godin, author of the most amazing books, and recently the Icarus Deception, writes a blog that is the only one I read daily. Asked for the one tool he he can’t live without, he said “the presenter view in Keynote, which shows me my next slide before anyone else sees it. I can’t imagine giving a fluid talk without it.”
Leo Babauta’s top tool: HackerNews
The infamous Leo Babauta writes the phenomenal blogzenhabits and is also author of multiple books. Whenever my day gets slightly too much, reading one of his articles for just a few minutes helps me clear my mind. So what helps Leo to get more inspiration and productivity? This:
“I use Hacker News for inspiration and ideas. I avoid most news sites, social media and other sources of information because there’s too much noise. But HN is curated by a smart group of users, has high signal-to-noise ratio, and is where new ideas and tiny startups are being tested at the street level, unfiltered by the media and mass markets.”
Rand Fishkin’s top tool: TINYpulse
Rand Fishkin is the CEO and cofounder of SEOmoz. Rand also gives some of the best advice for startups and businesses on his personal blog. When I asked him for his favorite, little-known tool, he had a great gem for you:
“One of my very favorite tools is TinyPulse. It sends a very short survey to everyone at Moz, asking two simple questions. It’s an incredibly valuable way to get honest, direct feedback about how things are going culture/team-wise.”
Guy Kawasaki’s top tool: Fantastical
Guy Kawasaki is a man who needs little introduction. He was the chief evangelist at Apple and has since then authored more than 10 books. When I asked him what helps him to keep up with his crazy schedule, this is what he came up with:
“Fantastical. Great way to see and edit your calendar without launching your calendar application and switching to it. Very smart, too: ‘4/24 7 pm Meet with Leo’ would create an event.”
[Image: Flickr user Zechariah Judy]
What is your favorite productivity app and what would you add?
Jerry Paffendorf’s Imagination Station was an art and performance space sitting near Detroit’s iconic eyesore: the windowless, 18-story Michigan Central Station. He and some neighbors had bought two houses and a field for $6,000 and renovated the property as a goodwill gesture and an expression of faith in his adopted home.
“With so much abandoned property [in Detroit], arson is common. One 32-hour span in September saw 31 fires. The department’s finances are such that last year firehouses ran out of toilet paper….”
See more images of Detroit’s start up scene here.
Election rhetoric focused on struggling small businesses completely ignores the tidal wave of creative, innovative startups sweeping the country. Fast Company’s editor-in-chief bears witness to the groundswell:
“Are the presidential candidates living in the same America that I am? Apparently not.
I don’t know what statistics Obama and Romney look at when they are assessing the state of small business in America—and I really don’t care—because they are missing something. And it is big.
For all the concerns they cite about the plight of small business, from tax burdens to health care costs and so on, what pols of all stripes are missing is that America is experiencing a wave of entrepreneurialism unlike anything we’ve ever had before…”
Read more here.
Picture via donrelyea on Flickr.
Getting investors to give money to a fledgling social venture isn’t easy, as InVenture’s CEO learns in this episode of The Unreasonables. You have to be willing to be more vulnerable and flexible than you want to be. Watch more->
General Assembly, founded in January 2011 in a 20,000-square-foot loft in New York’s Flatiron District by four friends in their late twenties and early thirties, is a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship. It’s not a degree-granting college; it’s not a high school; it’s not a traditional trade school. It’s something new—augmented education, a stopgap for the startup economy.
In the future of education, some General Assembly may be required.
Women-Led Startups Are The Key To New Job Creation