Double Your Twitter, Double Your Customer Satisfaction

“Sorry, I was sending a tweet”Photo - Ted

One of the funniest scenes in the recent Seth McFarlane movie Ted is when the titular ursine character crashes his car and then offers this feeble apology to his victim.  This incident reflects the ubiquity of Twitter everywhere from business, to politics, to running.

My SMB Matters colleague Richard Lee recently mused about the US Postal Service’s poor customer relationship management practices.  In contrast, I’d like to share an episode that illustrates exemplary customer service, enabled in large part through Twitter.

Take the Good, Take the Bad
I’ve mused before about the consulting profession, wherein the unparalleled intellectual opportunities, exposure to diverse organizations, and network building co-exist with the challenges of a peripatetic lifestyle.  As I’d noted at Built in Chicago, there are a host of products to help manage these issues, but at the end of the day they can still be taxing.

Photo - DoubletreeIt goes with saying that the hotel stay is a central element of the consulting lifestyle.  On the recommendations of a few colleagues, I recently stayed at a DoubleTree.  The burnt cod and limp, flavorless asparagus I had for dinner at the hotel restaurant one evening left much to be desired.  My dissatisfaction was compounded by two other factors that greatly reduced my productivity:

  1. Dysfunctional wireless service that made the days of dial-up seem like science fiction
  2. Disinterested waiters whose turnaround time would frustrate even Rip Van Winkle

Inspired by Dave Carroll’s now-classic video diatribe against United Airlines, I took to social media to voice my discontent, firing off this angry tweet:

Barking up the Right Tree
While I’d previously used Twitter for a variety of purposes, customer service hadn’t been on the menu.  DoubleTree definitely changed my viewpoint that evening.  They quickly responded to my tweet, sent me an email, called me, and made every effort to rectify the situation.  The pièce de resistance was an assortment of wine and cheese waiting for me that evening in my hotel room, along with a handwritten letter of apology.  A cursory glance at their Twitter feed reveals that it is standard operating procedure for DoubleTree to keep close tabs on all customer feedback (positive and negative) and respond quickly.

Obviously, for a hotel with so many locations, (along with the fact that there are many travelers with axes to grind and Twitter accounts), there is a high degree of automation to the process.  Nonetheless, the human followup was excellent, and a nice contrast to the disinterested “yeah, not our problem” responses I’d previously received from the front desk.

Not a Game Changer, But…
Between the two hotels I’d recently stayed at, I definitely preferred the Marriott to the DoubleTree – mainly because of the high number of Marriott Rewards points I’ve socked away over the years.  However, the highly responsive, proactive behavior of the DoubleTree increased my satisfaction with the chain.  As such, I made sure to sing their praises the next day via Twitter.

Having witnessed the perils of TWD (Tweeting While Driving) that befell Ted, I also made sure to put my car in “Park” first.

Five Ways to Soothe The Savage Beast

There was recently a study published in The Wall Street Journal about the pros and cons of using earphones at work.  Count me into the “pros” camp.  I have a rather eclectic music collection, and listen to everything from old Ned’s Atomic Dustbin to Daler Mehndi to Miles Davis.  As my daughter and I are slowly getting into gardening, I may take up my SMBMatters pal Richard Lee’s advice and play Beethoven’s Symphony #9 to the blooming pea plants in her garden.

As my last post shared the Top 5 Titles in my movie library, I’d like to extend this “taste reveal” to my music collection.  Here are the top 5 groups that get heavy airplay on my trusty iPhone.

The Beatles The Beatles

Steve Jobs considered the entrance of the Beatles into the iTunes Music Store to be one of his final great works.  Not one prone to unmerited positive affirmation, Jobs was quite effusive in his praise for the group, finding close personal connection with John, Paul, George, and the fourth one.  As Jobs did with Apple, the Beatles continually reinvented their style: the psychedelic, scruffy hippies behind Helter Skelter bore little resemblance to the squeaky clean team that debuted on the Ed Sullivan show a mere six years earlier.  Looking at their expansive corpus of work, awe-inspiring in terms of depth, breadth and diversity, it’s hard to believe the Fab Four were only around for 10 years.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones' "Tongue and Lip Desig...

If The Beatles were the rock equivalent of Apple, we can then equate The Rolling Stones with Microsoft (a correlation made more literal by the use of “Start Me Up” in Windows 95 commercials).  While the Beatles flamed out fairly early on, the Stones continued cranking out the hits well into the present day.  As with Microsoft, the Rolling Stones of today are a much lesser version of their original incarnation.  Where the Beatles were all about originality, creativity, and an understated style the Stones were not shy about imitation and winning ugly.  Of the Stones’ 50 year lifespan, the 1968-1973 period is in my estimation their golden age.  Gimme Shelter and You Can’t Always Get What You Want artfully captured the tumult and upheaval of the Vietnam era.  Not surprisingly, Stones classics from this period factor heavily into the films of my favorite director, Martin Scorcese.  They always leave me with a great deal of Satisfaction.

The Doors

The Doors

In my teenage years I was not quite the paragon of politeness, obedience and the other virtues that I try to instill in my children.  I found a kindred spirit from the previous generation in Jim Morrison, frontman for the iconoclastic 60’s band The Doors.  As with the Beatles, it is hard to believe that they were only around for 4 years given the enormous cultural impact and the power of timeless tracks such as Light My Fire and People are Strange.  The Doors had many hooks, including the mysticism that infused their songs, accentuated by Ray Manzarek’s use of the organ.   Not to mention Morrison’s penchant for defying censors’ instructions and flouting the rules of public decency.

You kids out there – stay in school, and don’t be like Jimmy!

The Beastie Boys

English: Ricky Powell

Please see my earlier post on the Beastie Boys, inspired by the premature demise of beer-swilling hooligan turned enlightened elder statesman Adam Yauch.  The only thing I’d add is that the Beasties should have called it quits after Ill Communication.  While Hello Nasty gets passing marks, To the 5 Boroughs is quite embarrassing.

The Strokes

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”  One of the best quotes from one of the greatest movies of all timeThe Godfather.  The best cannolis I ever had were from Venieros, a humble little Italian hole in the wall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  During our year in New York City, my wife and I would routinely trek all the way from the Upper West Side to the LES to feast on these flaky, pistachio-toped powder-sprinkled delectables.  This would prompt our NYC friends to glower in disbelief: “you have a car in this city??”

Along with cannolis, one of my strongest memories of the Big Apple in 2003 was “Room on Fire,” the second album from Lower East Side standout The Strokes.  This song also marked a demarcation in my listening habits from analog to digital, as it was the first album I purchased from the iTunes music store.  Many have written off the Strokes as being derivative of previous punk outfits such as Velvet UndergroundTelevision, and the Ramones.  All true: in fact, Triumph the Insult Comic damned them with faint praise, noting “look how cute you are!  You’re like the Monkees, with a drinking problem!”  There is something, however, about the rough-hewn, ragged rebelliousness underlying tracks such as Alone Together and Reptilia, that takes me back to life in NYC.  Their last album was, admittedly quite a jumbled mess nowhere near the caliber of their impressive debut Is this It.  Let’s hope they redeem themselves with their next showing, and let’s hope it doesn’t take another five years.

Listen Up…

To be sure, there are some anti-social implications of tuning out the world with headphones planted in your ears.  That said, the benefits of background music on productivity cannot be overstated.   I routinely keep music in the background, whether filling out TPS reportsrunning, or broadening my horizons with the latest and greatest reading material.

Bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive, as it excludes other notable such as Dave Brubeck, Pink Floyd, and Jay-Z.  Nonetheless, as with my post on movies, I hope this prompts you to take time out of your busy schedule, think about who your favorite artists are, why you like them, and what this reflects about you.

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Let’s All Go to the Lobby

As a consultant, voracious reader, serial networker, author, father of 2, and sometime runner, I am not entirely familiar with the notion of “free time.”  There are times, nonetheless, when I force myself to carve out a few hours, kick back with friends and family and lose myself in a good movie.

Here, in no particular order, are the top 5 titles in my library:

1. The Godfather

Well before his over-the-top “Hoo Ah!” character in Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino played perhaps the most complex, transformative character in all of movie history.  The evolution of Michael Corleone from squeaky clean, Ivy League-educated, decorated war hero to cold, calculating orderer of murders is truly bone-chilling.  The Godfather, along with its phenomenal sequel, is a case study in the elements of a perfect movie: plot twists, gorgeous cinemascapes, impeccable dialogue and delivery, and a powerful soundtrack.  In addition to Michael, the characters are complex and engaging, from the hot-headed Sonny, to dim-witted but dangerous Fredo, to ever-strategizing Tom Hagen.  The movie offers many practical lessons in management, as noted by Fast Company‘s Lydia Dischman.

2. Goodfellas

Next to The Godfather, Goodfellas is arguably the best movie about organized crime, earning a nod from Roger Ebert as “the greatest mob movie of all time.”  All of the usual Martin Scorcese suspects are here, with Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and of course, a steady montage of Rolling Stones tracks.  Ray Liotta‘s gravely narration, coupled with the signature Scorcese classic rock soundtrack, provide the perfect audio complement to the visuals.  It’s a treat to accompany Henry Hill on a roller coaster ride from petty street hood, to high-ranking soldier, to “average nobody,  a schnook.”  Finally, in the bombastic Tommy DeVito, Pesci pulls off what is perhaps the most amazing blend of comedian / psychopath.  He essentially reprises the role a few years later, to less impressive results, in Casino as Nicky Santoro.

3. National Lampoon’s Animal House

John Belushi was arguably the greatest talent ever to come through the ranks of Saturday Night Live, inspiring Chris Farley, Horatio Sanz, and countless other young comedic stars.  The talented cast of Animal House notwithstanding, Belushi steals the show as Bluto with minimal dialogue and nearly 100% physical comedy (aside from the classic “Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” speech).  Animal House is based on the college experiences of writers Dartmouth grad Chris Miller and Washington University alum Harold Ramis.  I felt a personal connection with the film, having attended Wash U a few decades after Ramis.  Of course, the school I attended in the 90’s bore little similarity to the hedonistic playground where Bluto and his friends golfed, dined, and played with horses.

4. National Lampoon’s Vacation

As I’d alluded to in my post on Yahoo! it’s painful to see the descent of once-promising stars.  Anthony Michael Hall is now a bloated caricature of the delightful character he played in Vacation (as is Chevy Chase).  As with Animal House, I feel a personal connection with Vacation and John Hughes’ other movies as they were set in my stomping ground, the northern burbs of Chicago.  I could relate to Rusty as a youth, bellyaching about family trips to “boring” places such as Devon Avenue (Chicago’s “Little India”).  As a husband and father of 2, I now relate more to patriarch Clark Griswold whenever I try to “sell” my kids on trips to boring places such as…Devon Avenue (it’s a 15-minute drive vs 5 hours, but no less painful of a dragging process).  To bridge the gap, every vacation, whether it’s Wisconsin Dells or Washington DC, starts off with a family rendition of “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go” by The Ramones.

5. Office Space

No review needed.  Just seven words: TPS ReportsCase of the MondaysFlair.  <Shudder>.

No Real Plot Twists Here, But…

Movies are a great way to level set reality, especially after an exhausting day at the office or at home.  As with sports, alluding to movies helps to forge common ground in personal, professional, and academic settings: you can tell a lot about a person by the movies they dig.

I encourage you, gentle reader, to watch or re-watch these films next time you’re checking your queue on Netflix or roaming the aisles of the video store (yes, they still exist).  To fans and foes of these films, please reach out and let me know your thoughts.  You can submit comments below, or hit me up at ntorsekar(at)

And to paraphrase my fellow movie buff Roger Ebert, until next post, the balcony is closed.

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Requiem / Paean for a Dot-Com Darling

It’s a tale that unfolds more than we care to count, but is heart-wrenching to see nonetheless.  We’ve seen it many times: a young star meets with great success early on.  Their ascent is met with many accolades and kudos.  Then, they fall from grace.  Scandal; missteps; a change in public sentiment.  No matter how hard they try, they can’t reverse their fall from the great heights.

Sock puppets and search engines

yahoo pets.comI’m talking, of course, about Yahoo!, the once-revered icon of the late 1990’s dot-com era.  Two young Stanford grad students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, unleashed on the world an indexing service that would help navigate journeys on the increasingly congested “information superhighway.”  In this context, Yahoo! was nothing short of revolutionary.  Even its silly name seemed to capture the slightly irrational, but very fun, mood of the time.  This was when “burn rate” was a proxy for a company’s growth prospects, Herman Miller chairs and foosball tables represented credibility, and Jack Welch could get upstaged by a sock puppet as a company spokesman.

I have fond memories of that era: it’s when I moved to Chicago, fell in love with the woman with whom I just celebrated 11 years of marriage, and arrived at the very satisfying answer to the Frequently Asked Question, “what the hell are you going to do with a History and French degree?”  It’s why I still have a great deal of affection for this Sunnyvale company, even after the Microsoft acquisition debacle, the dustup over Carol Bartz ignominious departure, and the Scott Thompson resume kerfuffle.

Having logged time at two financial services companies, I was obviously a big fan of Yahoo! Finance.  There were two services, however, that capture the era well.

Yahoo! MailWashington University alums will recall standing in line waiting for the sterile “green screen” terminals to check their “Pinemail” in the Olin Library.  I quickly tired of the clunky interface I used to check my email after leaving St. Louis, and abandoned my “” account for a Yahoo! one.  Granted, I am on the whole underwhelmed by Yahoo! Mail, given their glacial pace of introducing upgrades, and the fact that their integration with Outlook is a joke.   However, my Inbox is an ever-evolving scrapbook, a digital collection of moments I’ve shared with friends, family, and professional connections.  It’s why even though I have a Gmail account I’m still not parting with my Yahoo! account.

Geocities.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have found a captive audience in folks looking for exposure – sometimes a little too much, as in the case of the “oversharenting” moms and dads examined in The Wall Street Journal.  It wasn’t always this easy.  I hate pulling out the “in my day” card, but you had to sort of know what you were doing in the late 90’s to publish content.  Geocities was the middle ground between Facebook and WordPress, that offered some primitive drag and drop tools for building and maintaining Websites.  Through Geocities I was able to share pictures with relatives in India, develop a Web portfolio to show hiring managers that a liberal arts grad could write code, and acquire a minor following from folks interested in sound clips from Goodfellas (one of my all-time favorite flicks).   Geocities has unfortunately gone the way of Delicious, Briefcase, and other sunsetted properties.

Holding out for a Hero (or a Good Product)

Ashton Kutcher was recently tapped to play Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic.  At time of writing, if we were to associate a celebrity with Yahoo!, it would unfortunately be the likes of Lindsay Lohan or some other misstep-prone, washed up train wreck.  I’m holding out hope though.  Few seem to recall that the Apple of today was very much like Yahoo! before Jobs rescued it from the brink in the late 90’s – incidentally, while Yahoo! was riding high.  To win over the hearts and minds of customers and investors, Yahoo! needs to completely reinvent itself like Jobs did with the iPod, as opposed to half-baked, poorly executed attempts at innovation such as Livestand, and now Axis.

I’d like the next chapter of  the Yahoo! story to unfold like the amazing scene in Limitless when Eddie Mora shakes off the cobwebs, gets to work, and starts kicking some serious butt.  It would be nice for Yahoo! to replace “LiLo” with Bradley Cooper as the star with whom they are identified.  As talented as he is, however, I’m not sure Cooper could pull off the Jerry Yang look.  There’s always Eddie Murphy.

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In Memoriam: Adam Yauch, Professor Emeritus, Sounds of Science

We’ve lost quite a few great talents over the last year.  While tragic, I have generally resisted the media’s entreaties to jump on the bandwagon of blustery sentiment over the passing of washed up celebs such as Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

There are a couple exceptions to this immunity to emotion:
– A highly creative, prolific genius is taken from us at a young age
– Individual has not given us everything they could have, if given more time
– Individual’s body of work overlaps with key phases of your life

When Steve Jobs succumbed to cancer last fall, for instance, I shed many a tear.  I’d cut my teeth in technology developing programs in BASIC as an 8-year old on the Apple IIe.  Gargantuan and cumbersome in comparison to its successor diminutive Mac Mini and MacBook incarnations, the Apple II product line was revolutionary for its time.  Jobs (and Steve Wozniak) moved computers from the realm of government and multi-billion dollar corporations, into the schools and homes of the masses.

For similar reasons, I grew extremely sad yesterday I learned of the passing of Adam Yauch, the older, wiser member of the seminal hip-hop group the Beastie Boys.  The Beasties are similar in many ways to another iconic group that factors heavily in the turntable rotation on my iFi: The Beatles.  Their songs defined a generation, they melded numerous different themes and musical styles, and they continually reinvented their modus operandi or (in keeping with the Beasties’ vernacular) shtick.

I took a quick trip down memory lane to reflect upon some highlights from The Beasties’ corpus of work.

License to Ill.  Ah the 80’s.  Robert Downey Jr. showed the horrors of life imitating art in Less than ZeroGordon Gekko rhapsodized creepily about the benefits of greed (and Brylcreem, no doubt) in Wall Street.  And a trio of misfits from the Big Apple implored us to fight for our right to party.  Of course, their bacchanalian themes went completely over my Toledo Mudhens hat-wearing 6th grade head.  In my world, the implications were far more innocuous: your popularity was defined in large part by your ability to recite “Paul Revere” by heart.

Paul’s Boutique. 
The Beasties’ Exile on Main Street: far from a commercial success, but regarded by many critics and consumers as their best work.  The album was such a departure from their previous MTV-ready smash hit that it barely registered in the press.  My friends and I revisited this album in the early 90’s, and played it ad nauseum in the hallowed dorms of Washington University.  On this album, Adam and the B-Boys collaborated with the Dust Brothers, who would later work with Beck on Odelay (another artist and album that Nikhil Torsekar likes a lot).

Check Your Head.  The early 90’s spawned a few outfits that bore a striking resemblance to the Beasties, the most notable being the nasal Cypress Hill and party-prone House of Pain.  The Beasties were therefore wise to change their tune up a bit here, revisiting their punk roots in tunes such as Gratitude and Time for Livin. Additionally, tunes like Namasté gave a preview of the group’s embrace of Eastern philosophies that would go full force on Ill Communication.
I wouldn’t say they “jumped the shark” with Ill Communication, but I found their albums after 1993 to be far less memorable than their prior work.

Thursday morning, I was unaware that Adam Yauch was sick.  I randomly happened to issue the following tweet:

There are a few Beastie classics that get heavy airplay during the roughly 8 hours I spend in my car during the week (notably the palliative Namasté ).  But Paul’s Boutique is an album I hadn’t listened to in years.  I’m glad I got to take a trip down memory lane and revisit this timeless classic.

Farewell Papa Yauch; thanks for (in your own words)
“dropping the new science and kicking the new knowledge” and for being
“An M.C. to a degree that you can’t get in college”

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It Etches! It Sketches! It Helps You…Stay Productive?

While scanning the elements of my News Feed on LinkedIn the other day I came across an interesting post by Jeb Ory, CEO of the mobile relationship management startup 5Degrees, and a fellow Chicago Booth graduate.  He wrote about a skill that has all but died on the vine in the business world, of taking notes. 

Jeb’s post prompted some self-reflection about the importance of note-taking in my life.  Consultants are always exploring the new: new clients, new industries, new functional areas.  Throughout this discovery process, there is a dangerous tendency toward overestimating the power of focus, as noted in The Wall Street Journal recently.  Note-taking is an important tool for augmenting our abilities for recall.  In meetings, conference calls, and even the informal “stop and chats”  that (Larry David’s criticism notwithstanding), putting pen to paper can really help manage the information overload.

As I’d noted in a previous post, traveling consultants face myriad challenges.  We can add one more to this list: solving the question, “what to do with the pile of legal pads on which I’ve jotted down great ideas, notes, and million-dollar ideas?”  Reams and reams of paper with notes do not fit in well with the peripatetic lifestyle of a consultant.  The risk of considerable back pain aside, it is nearly impossible to glean insights from illegible chicken scratch jotted down a few days ago, especially after a red-eye flight or ten.

And Now for Something Completely Better…

I tired quickly of cramming legal pads for cross-country trips into overhead bins, and knew there had to be a better way. Enter into this conundrum Penultimate, a revolutionary iPad app that brings method to the madness, and does it with style.  It shatters the notion of the iPad as a frivolous toy, pushing it more into the realm of productivitySteve Jobs’ criticism of the stylus notwithstanding, I ponied up the $20 bucks for the RadTech Styloid and was soon “off to the races,” as they say.

I quickly discovered that Penultimate rocks the house, because it:

  • Allows for a more natural, free-flow note-taking experience than tapping furiously on a laptop keyboard a la Carrie Bradshaw
  • Integrates with other productivity tools.  As Apple has spawned a robust cottage industry of apps, it is not surprising that Penultimate seamlessly integrates with leading edge applications such as Evernote and Dropbox (another tool that I am passionate about).
  • Appeals to your eco-friendly, tree-hugging instincts.  Think about it: a week-long workshop, or marathon brainstorming strategy session will likely yield a lot of great ideas, but also a lot of pads of paper.  Think of how many trees in the Brazilian rain forest you could save by capturing that stuff digitally.
  • Great for brainstorming interactively with clients and prospects.  You can reap the collaborative benefits of a whiteboard without the noxious fumes of Magic Markers, or the damage that endless erasing can do to your wardrobe.
  • Convinces your spouse or significant other that you didn’t just blow a couple hundred bucks on yet another gadget, but have instead invested in a productivity-enhancing game changer.  My wife will back me up when I say this is the most important one.

Couple O’ Caveats

Don’t get me wrong.  There is something pure and organic about capturing notes with a ball-point pen.  When speaking with clients informally, it’s better to casually jot down notes rather than pull out a computerized device.   And yes, the touch-and-feel aspect notwithstanding, the iPad screen can seem a bit cold and sterile.  And as with most apps, Penultimate may have limited appeal to change-averse technophobes loathe to introduce modifications to their comfortable routine.  Finally, after an all-day strategy session you can keep writing away without having  to plug your legal pad into the wall for “more juice.”  The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the iPad / Penultimate approach.

Cure the Pain, One Meeting At A Time

Nonetheless, this app puts the “ultimate” in Penultimate, and does so in spades.  It turns your iPad from a cool gadget to an “Etch-a-Sketch on steroids.”  Next time you’re trying to quickly jump to conclusions through stacks and stacks of paper, consider a better approach.  Hop on over to the App store, and shell out the whopping 99 cents (Stylus not included) to take your productivity to the next level.  Your clients, your spouse, and your long-suffering back will be eternally grateful!

Nikhil Torsekar is a Senior Manager with Peritius Consulting, a management consulting firm focusing exclusively on strategic execution.  He has over 10 years of experience delivering innovative solutions to clients in health care, telecommunications, automotive, and financial services industries.  When not talking about his fanatic interest in Penultimate, Twitter, or devices that start with a lowercase “i,” he enjoys running, reading, and spending time with his awesome family.

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Drop the Brick, Pick up “The Box”

Ah to be young and a traveling consultant.

You travel to God-forsaken locales; you spend your nights sleeping in horrible Motel 6-esque chainManagement Consultants, driving in tuna can-like rental cars, subsisting off of unhealthy food, and you can probably name all the stores in Terminal B of O’Hare by memory.

And then of course, there’s the numerous conflicting images that you have to contend with.

One lesser-mentioned, but equally frustrating, challenge of being a consultant that bears mention is a logistical one: managing your data.  Typically consultants work on bulky, cumbersome devices which do not always have the full suite of applications they require.  And sometimes after looking at data day in, day out it’s easier to whip out an alternate device such as an iPad or iPhone.

There are a couple different options for getting around this hurdle in managing data:
1. USB drive.  Brick, stick, thumb drive, jump drive.  There are many different variants to the term.  At the end of the day it is a ticking time bomb.  Let’s say you’ve put the finishing touches on a slide deck that will knock a client / prospect’s socks off.  You accidentally leave your trusty SanDisk device in the tray and walk through airport security screening at EWR, LAX, PDX, or the other airport of the week.  With it goes the deliverable that could’ve changed their life (and yes, I am still working through the afore-mentioned image issues).

2. Email.  I chuckle every time I receive multiple copies of a document with files that contain the author’s initials, the version, the date, their high school locker combination, and numerous other data points to help manage the document history.  Regardless of the versioning system, the upshot is always that this is a space-hogging, highly inefficient way to manage information.

3. Carrier pigeon.  Hey, sometimes the old tried and true is the best way.Photo - Dropbox

A Better Way

There is a far more logical, and cooler alternative to all of these approaches, known as DropBox.  This is one of those multi-million-dollar “why didn’t I think of it” ideas that has taken the business world by storm.  The cloud-based file hosting service has attracted interest from your rank-and-file knowledge workers to more high-voltage names such as U2 (yes, that U2).  The Y Combinator alum has earned a place alongside Facebook, Linkedin, Yelp and others in the startup glitterati, and with good reason.

Dropbox has been good to me.  Over the course of my career, I found it maddening to keep my work in sync across numerous laptops.  This was especially true during graduate school, where I’d often deliver presentations and have to keep making updates until the very last minute.  Additionally, collaboration was a nightmare, as it was nearly impossible to reconcile each member’s contribution or modification to group project deliverables.

DropBox removed the complexity and headaches from managing this information, as we were able to reference one unified copy of a document instead of foraging through our inboxes, or playing “Musical Thumb Drives.”  Additionally, I loved the ability to review presentations and other deliverables from multiple devices, including my trusty old iPad.  Finally, given the tendency of PC’s to gobble up key documents via hardware / application crashes, it’s nice to have the data backed up in the cloud.

Lucy, You Got Some Disclaimin’ To Do

Obviously there are caveats to this recommendation of DropBox.  The firm’s recent introduction of DropBox for Teams notwithstanding, it is still very much geared toward the individual user and small businesses.  Enterprise customers will more likely need a more robust solution such as industry standard Microsoft SharePoint, or the recent cloud-based entrant Box.  And, as with any other wildly successful product, DropBox is not without its share of detractors.

Drop in on the Box

At the end of the day, DropBox is truly a Swiss Army knife that provides benefits to nearly every profile.  Consultants will love the enhanced ability to keep files in sync across multiple devices.  Students working on group projects will benefit from a virtual file server that provides greater security than thumb drives.  And folks less than enamored of Facebook’s byzantine privacy policies will love the ability to share photos in a more secure manner.

From one consultant to another, I highly recommend that you click here to sign up for a free trial, which gives you 2 gigs of space.  You’ll thank me next time you’re delightfully syncing files during a flight delay in Flagstaff, or noshing over some delectable Panda Express in Des Moines.

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