Category Archives: Product Review

3 Books That Will Kickstart Your Blog

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I’m entering the fourth week of my 30 day challenge to write a new blog post every day. To kick off the last week of my 30 day challenge, I’m going to share 3 books that have really helped me improve my blog as well as my content.

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Finding the Perfect Weekend Duffel Bag

I travel quite a bit on short weekend trips.I was finding that the bag that I was using wasn’t working so I decided to shop around for a new overnight bag.

Here are my three picks:

Herschel Novel Duffel

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The Herschel Novel Duffel is a very stylish bag that gives you a retro look with some cool features.

Pros

– Shoe compartment

– Size (Large enough bag to pack a lot of stuff in)

– Light weight

– Nice leather accents

– Stylish and cool

Cons

– The canvas material seemed a little flimsy

– The plastic buckles seemed poorly constructed

– Some of the inner linings are unusual designs

– The shoe compartment was nice but a little small for large shoes

Lululemon Training Duffel

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The Lululemon Duffel is a durable urban bag that can be used for the gym or a weekend away.

Pros

– Lot’s of features including a strap for a yoga mat

– Large shoe/wet stuff compartment

– High quality material

– The bag keeps its shape once its zipped up

Cons

– Expensive at $108

– Not as stylish as other bags

– Not as much space available once you have a pair of shoes in the shoe compartment

MEC Duffel Bag

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The MEC Duffel is a well constructed bag that is highly durable and basic in its look and feel.

Pros

– Inexpensive

– Lot’s of size options

– Lot’s of colors to choose from

– Waterproof

– Durable

Cons

– It’s a pretty basic bag so you won’t get any points for style

– No special compartments for small items

– The shoulder strap can be uncomfortable with heavy weight

I decided in the end to go with the Lululemon Training Duffel because of the durability and quality of the fabric. I’ve been using it regularly for the past few months and i’ve been extremely happy with it.

10 Gift Ideas For That Entrepreneur In Your Life

Finding the perfect gift for your friends, family or significant other this holiday season can be stressful. How many times have you asked yourself “What do I get for the person who has everything?”.

Well, today I’m going to make your holiday shopping just a little easier.

Here are 10 gift ideas that are perfect for the entrepreneur or business person in your life. And hey, who says you can’t treat yourself to something special?

1) Audible Membership

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What better way to kill time on the bus or commute into work then to listen to an educational or fun (fiction) book? Catch up the latest best sellers while on the go. And if you work from home, you can load up your ipod with audiobooks and go to the gym!

2) Tim Ferris’s new book “The 4-Hour Chef

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I haven’t read this book yet but based on Tim’s last two books, I am looking forward to diving in. This book has been highly publicized and looks to be a great read.

3) Gift Card to App Sumo

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App Sumo is the candy store for tech entrepreneurs. Similar to other daily deal websites such as Groupon, Living Social and Ethical Deal, App Sumo offers great deals on software, education and web tools. I’ve scored some awesome deals this year.

4) An e-reader

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E-readers have been out for awhile but the new versions this year are great. The Kobo Mini and Kindle Fire HD are my picks.

5) An ergonomic chair for the home office

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This one doesn’t sound sexy but don’t knock how your productivity can increase with a good working chair. I went to a local ergonomic chair store and was amazed at the difference that a good chair can do. Talk to one of the ergonomic specialists at your local chair store and they can set you up with the perfect chair.

6) Digital magazine subscriptions

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Magazine subscriptions can be a lame gift. But now with most magazines offering digital versions through the ipad or other tablets, you can give somebody a few magazines for cheap.

7) Jet Bags

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Jet Bags are an ingenious invention. A worry free way to travel with wine or liquor bottles in your suit case.  Jet Bags consist of a plastic “ziploc” type bag with an absorbent cloth layer inside. If the bottle breaks, the absorbent layer will soak up all the liquid (750ml) and keep your clothing and other luggage items safe.

8) Membership to Lynda.com

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Okay, giving somebody education as a gift seems like a boring idea. But what better way to kick off the new year then with some shiny new skills to improve both productivity and profitability? Lynda.com has a wide selection of courses ranging from SEO to Adobe Photoshop. This one is on my list for sure!

9) Moo.com Gift Certificate

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Business cards are essential networking tools regardless of how much social networking somebody does. A gift card to Moo will ensure that your gift recipient will be well stocked with cards for January.

10) A Journal

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Jim Rohn once said he bought expensive, high quality journals so that he could fill them up with ideas, notes and reflections that would be worth more than the cost of the book. Moleskine journals are fun and now Evernote has its own integrated version.

You should follow the Pinstriped Suit on Twitter here.

Book of the week: The start-up of you

The start-up of you by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha is one of those books that a friend referred to me but I never got around to reading. Finally, last month my friend Jacob suggested the book for a business book club I’m part of and I finally got around to tackling it. (Plug: Amazon’s Whispersync saves your spot if you listen to the audiobook and kindle edition so you can get the book done way faster if you use both formats)

The premise of the book revolves around the idea that the key element to career success is to always be in a stage of “Permanent Beta”. For those of you who don’t know, entrepreneurs and start-ups use this term to describe a constant state of learning and pivoting. In essence, choosing a direction but always being open to opportunities, ideas and growth that you may not be able to see today.

But before I get into some of my favorite ideas in the book, I’ll fill you in on some information about one of the authors, Reid Hoffman. Reid started Linkedin back in the early 2000’s and is now the Chairman of the Board. He has been a mentor and investor to many start-ups from Silicon Valley and continues to be a prominent thought leader in entrepreneurship, technology and of course start-ups.

Back to the book.

The start-up of you is broken up into seven chapters, each one dealing with principles and practices that start-ups use that can be applied to developing career success. Below, I’ve listed the seven chapters with my key takeaway from each section.

Chapter 1: All Humans Are Entrepreneurs

  • The old career rules are dead. We have to constantly pivot and find new types of jobs and value to bring to the employers or clients that hire us.

Chapter 2: Develop a Competitive Advantage

  • Like every successful business, you need a competitive advantage that’s going to set you apart from the pack. You need a point of differentiation from everybody else who’s applying for the same job or pitching the same client as you. What’s your competitive advantage?

Chapter 3: Plan To Adapt

  • The world is changing quickly and making plans too far into the future may not be effective. Plan for the future but be ready to change direction or have a backup plan just in case. Figure out what your Plan B and Plan Z. This reminds me of the adage “A failure to plan is a plan to fail”

Chapter 4: It Takes A Network

  • This chapter boils down into the nitty gritty of how to build and maintain an effective network. Reid identifies two distinct groups in your network: 1) Allies 2) Weaker ties and acquaintances  You should know which group to approach for career advice or for new opportunities. Another key point is that relationships are vital to maintainin a healthy and effective network.

Chapter 5: Pursue Breakout Opportunities

  • Reid talks about how George Clooney found his breakout role in the hit TV series “ER”. Think about what your breakout opportunity could be and then do everything you can to get it.

Chapter 6: Take Intelligent Risks

  • Learn how to size up risk appropriately but don’t be afraid to go after a risky opportunity. Exposing yourself to risk regularly helps you acclimatize to when unforseen circumstances hit.

Chapter 7: Who You Know Is What You Know

  • Use your network as a highly sophisticated system of business intelligence. By tapping the right people for information, you may be able to avoid a crisis or gain insight into an opportunity your pursuing.

The book is loaded with lot’s of case studies and examples that can be applied right away either to help you find a new career, expand your network and just simply get you thinking about living your life in permanent beta.

This book is a short read and is available on Amazon or Audible. Also, the companion website offers a plethora of resources and access to start-up of you networks.

Tackle your Habits with the Habit Master App

Have you ever wanted to pick up a positive habit but kept forgetting to do it? Or have you started a new diet/exercise routine and want to keep track of how many days you stick to your plan? Or how many times have you wanted to start reading a book a week but it never happens?

Well, there is a great app that does the work for you. Habit Master keeps track of your daily, weekly and monthly habits in an easy to use interface. It also keeps a record of how many days in a row you complete your habits so you can watch your progress. You can also customize your habits so that it skips certain days. For example, if you wanted to do situps every week day but skip weekends, you can customize the settings to only count the days that you want to keep the habit.

At the bargain price of $2.99, Habit Master is an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to keep you accountable and start adopting positive habits.

I started using Habit Master recently to start keeping track of all the different habits I’ve been trying to incorporate into my daily routine. This app keeps me focused on the highest priorities of my day, week and month so I spend less time on random activities . It’s also a great way to track how many days in a row you’ve been completing your habits.

 

If you forget to check off having completed a task, you can also go back and mark them off in the calendar.

 

Habit Master has been around for quite awhile but has recently increased in popularity. Habit Master is available for Iphone/Ipad and Android Devices.