166 FS Investing In Your Business with Equipment, Software, and Other Services

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Check out RailsClips and Angular Remote Conf!


01:39 - Purchase Criteria

08:09 - At what point to do you switch/kill off/upgrade services and/or hardware?

  • Lost Productivity Costs

21:03 - Justifying Big Equipment/Furniture Purchases

32:58 - Try Before You Buy

37:04 - Travel Expenses

47:33 - Quality = Positive Return On Investment (ROI)

  • Self-Representation


Products and Services Referenced During This Episode:

ExpressVPN (Reuven)Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits by Kevin Roose (Reuven)CommitStrip: A Very Common Coder’s Youthful Mistake (Eric)Paul Jarvis: The one thing every aspiring freelancer, college student or person with access to a time machine should know (Eric)Amazon Echo (Jonathan)1-877-223-0342 (Chuck)freelancershow.com/15minutes (Chuck)


ERIC: Yeah. I don’t remember – I’ve read about it and I don’t travel so I don’t bookmark it, but I think it’s in Japan or something, like they actually have where you could rent a room like six foot by eight foot. Very tiny but you get a bed, close it up, lock the door, all that so that you can get a miniature hotel for – by the hour inside the apartment, inside security just to deal with that stuff. REUVEN: You know, in other countries they call those coffins.**[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow]****CHUCK: Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 166 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from Devchat.tv. Couple of quick announcements, I would really love it if you're a Rails person if you go check out RailsClips, and if you're an Angular person go check out Angular Remote Conf. those are both at what they’re called dot com; so angularremoteconf.com and railsclips.com. I was trying to be concise and then I realized I was being confusing. Anyway, we decided this week to talk a little bit about investing in your business; so equipment, software – other services like that. I’m wondering, when you guys make a purchase, what’s the criteria you have for that? ERIC:**How awesome I feel. [Chuckles]**CHUCK: I have to say, I do make a few fair impulse purchases, and I've been trying to be a little more deliberate about how money goes out of my company. ERIC: Yeah. I mean realistically it depends on the purchase and the reasons behind it which is what you do of any kind of purchase. Just like a major purchase like a laptop and it’s like replacing one that broke and I need it to work, like this is a blocking type thing or costs me money; I just make it. It’s one of those quick draw, get it, do whatever I need to do. I’m saying, if my keyboard or mouse breaks, my monitor breaks or anything like that that I know has a ton of value, it’s just “buy it”. JONATHAN: Yeah. ERIC: Maybe take a – depending on how urgent it is, maybe take a little bit research if there’s a better option. I’ve actually, when I had a desktop had a video card go out, which basically killed by multiple monitor setup. And I went online, bought something and had it overnighted, and had it the next day because it was so important. I think I spent like 40 or 50 bucks on shipping for a 30 dollar card, but it was that important to my business. Other purchases like more discretionary things, it might take some time, I might put off. I actually use my budget in software to really help me figure out when I should buy stuff or when I shouldn’t. CHUCK: How about you, Jonathan? JONATHAN: Yeah, same deal here. There are certain tools that I use every single day that, if something does happen to them I immediately try to get myself back to at least where I was, if not, better, because it’s like an emotional drag that just hits you every time you go to reach for that tool and it’s not there. For example – this is going to sound dumb but I have this pen that I’ve been using and it’s just – I love this pen. I think I picked it on one of the shows recently. It’s like a 120 dollar fountain pen that’s handmade out of reclaimed 3,000 year old wood, and the thing just become part of my daily routine. And I was speaking in Las Vegas a couple of months ago and I left my pen behind, and I didn’t even think twice about it, I ordered another pen and had it overnighted to me because she was messing me up not having it. That’s probably an extreme example but I’m sure people could understand this same situation if their laptop got stolen, or if they leave a phone in the cab. The tools that you use every single day, just don’t think about it, just replace that thing immediately and deal with the credit card charge or whatever later. Other things that come up with me more so when I was in software development is making purchases that are related to executing a project – I don’t know if that’s jumping ahead. CHUCK: No that’s not. Go ahead. JONATHAN: Yeah, so if I got a project, giving someone a proposal, there are always fixed bids so I know I’ve got whatever it is - $ 50,000 to play with – and I can go out and spend 500 bucks on a service to make my life easier, deliver the product faster, deliver the outcome faster. You better believe I’m going to immediately do it. A recent example of that was, in my coaching room I have a bunch of people who were researching verticals, and Eric has been in this – well everybody, I think everybody on the show’s been in this situation recently where they’re researching a vertical. And so, just as an experiment, I wanted to vet this product’s called BuiltWith – builtwith.com. It’s like a scraping, so I guess they go around and they scrape websites and they’ve been doing it for a long time. And they are clever about it and they determined if a given website was built with Ruby on Rails or Shopify, and they have all sorts of interesting information about how the site owner is using this site so you can do –. You can run reports like, “Show me a list of all the Shopify site owners in the United States who are spending more than $500 a month on third party plug-ins and software.” And, boom, you get this list of thousands, usually, of results; and now all of a sudden you’ve got a prospecting list of your cleaning/undoing cold outreach or something like that. And this product’s 500 bucks a month for SaaS, and I think that was at the lowest level. But it was worth it if only for research for my coaching room where I’m making ten times $500 a month. So just to be able to recommend this product to people – literally, it’s a product recommendation. It was worth it to me to spend the $500 to try it just to see if it worked, because that made me better as a coach in this particular case. So it’s a long way of saying that if you have a definite outcome in mind, and that definite outcome has a dollar amount associated with it then, sure, I’m going to look around, and by all sorts of tools that a fraction of that price to make my life easier, to make me better at my job. ERIC: Yeah, and I do a lot of that. I have – it’s not a set amount, I probably should, I should make a budget for it. But I give experiments, like I’ll set like I’m going to experiment with BuiltWith, or this other SaaS or maybe some kind of marketing thing. I have this goal of I want it to 2-x or whatever, or you haven’t returned something and I’ll do it or use a tool or whatever it is for three/six months however long – it depends. And then at that time I’d evaluate it, like did this actually fulfill what it was supposed to? Unlike, say, I use Edgar you know, edgar.com or something. I started with that; I was like “let me give it a try for a couple of months” because I was just using Buffer. Buffer was – that was on a free plan; it worked okay. It wasn’t great results but for being free it was good. Tried out Edgar, used it for two months and I started seeing a significant difference between days I was using it and days I wasn’t. I was like, “Okay, yeah, this is worth – whatever - $49 a month it is.” And so now that has actually become a tool that I’ve capped. I think I’ve been with him for a year or almost a year – something like that. But there has been other tools where I tried it out, might use a little bit, didn’t use as much as I thought and became one of those reoccurring SaaS subscriptions that you have that it’s just charging you and you're not a user. And then I kill off after a while because it’s like, “Oh, I’m still paying for this but I’m not using it.” CHUCK: Uh-hm. Well it’s just – it seems like in the category of things like Edgar and what have you that – if it looks like it might pay off then there’s some experimentation that happens. I do wonder a little bit though, at what point do you kill a service? When you’re not using it or are there other aspects that – are there other things that make that decision for you? And what is your criteria when you're looking at a service to determine, “Yeah, I really want to try this one out.” How much trouble is it going to save me? How much money is it going to save me? How much work is it going to – I don’t know. JONATHAN: Right. I mean it’s important to have a goal for the purchase. So for the example of using BuiltWith, I had a couple of different goals that all combine to make it worth it to me, to at least try it out even for 500 bucks because first I was going to be able to use it for my own prospecting plus I was going to use it to advice people, be able to recommend it from a – instead of just saying, “Hey, I've heard about this thing BuiltWith. I heard it’s pretty cool,” I can actually say, “It’s like this – X, Y and Z and here’s how it compares to nerdy data or one of another similar product.” But maybe more specifically to your question, I do try some stuff out where I’m not really sure what the goal is. For example, Facebook ads or Google AdWords, I’ll go in and literally I’ve been hearing about this. It’s really low investment; I’m just going to throw some cash just to see if it moves a needle or anything. And in that case I set a budget – you know, something small like $5 or $10 a day; I’m going to run this for a month and I’m going to shut it off and evaluate whether or not it was worthwhile. Is that what you're getting at? CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC:**Yeah, another thing to think about is also – it’s not [inaudible] but the term, but the idea of Facebook ads. It costs – you can set your budget, you pay for it each month or however you need to renew it. And if you’re done, if the experiment was not a failure but you're not going to do it, you stop and you don’t pay anymore. Versus something else where you have to – your commit is a year upfront, or you have to buy something physical and you can’t get your money back. So the ability to back out of the investment, back out or stop or something like that, that’s another factor. A lot of SaaS is – like I use one that does forwarding stuff so I can get another Shopify dev. It can actually – Shopify can talk to my laptop through tunnels and SSL and all that stuff. In that service I have paid for a couple of client who have Shopify stuff, stopped working with him for a little while; it worked with other clients that didn’t need it. I cancelled the service and then when I started doing Shopify dev again I actually just reinstated my account, and there’s just no real downside to canceling and starting to pack up, it’s just that you have a new plan and all that. So in that case, it’s really easy. It’s just like, “Oh, I can just create a new account later on.” So cancelling’s a good thing versus you have a server that you’re hosting. Like cancelling the server and losing all the data on the server, and having to set a backup again. That’s a harder cause to scale up, scale down.**CHUCK: Uh-hm. REUVEN: Yeah, brings up the notion of lock-in and also switching cost. So for example Basecamp is what I have been using for project management for a year at this point. And for me to even try another system would have massive switching costs because I would basically be starting up in a new space; I’d basically be creating two histories of projects in two different places, which I would almost never – I mean I don’t know if there’s like a migration service from whatever productize to Basecamp or vise versa. But I’m going to be less likely to experiment with stuff when there’s lock-in and high switching costs. I mean I wouldn’t call Basecamp ‘locked in’ because you can export your data, but you know what I mean, it’s like if you start up a new project somewhere else, and now I’ve got all this history over there. And then I’m like, “You know what, I don’t really like this,” and I got a project with the same customer a year later, and now I’m like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to use Basecamp this time.” It just gets weird. REUVEN:**Yeah, I mean I went through that a few times now with task trackers. [inaudible] trackers, task trackers with a few clients; especially one client where I think in the last five to six years we’ve used three different systems for keeping track of bump tracking. And no one really had a huge investment, either time investment or money investment in any of these task products, but the switching was a psychological cause to where we will put things or how do we move things. And so maybe it was technically locked in, but it was some sort of psychological lock in and just like an inertial lock in as well. So there definitely was a switching cost associated with it for sure.ERIC: Well, there’s also training cost, like if you're switching – a system has a process behind it – how do you use it? Do you have to train people? Do you have to train your clients? All that stuff. It’s the same thing like when you're on board and you’re a new employee or contractor, there’s a huge amount of cost associated; a lot of it is time cost and people don’t account for it. CHUCK: So, I’m also wondering like, we talked a little bit about equipment and hardware. I know people that they buy a laptop or something and then they realize that they need more RAM, so that’s a few hundred dollar investment that they may or may not have right away, but they can limp along for a while without the RAM. So at what point do you decide, “Okay, I may not have the money for this or it may make things a little bit tight, but it’s going to pay off.” How do you evaluate that? REUVEN:[Chuckles] I just get a Mac where I cannot upgrade the RAM. [Chuckles]**CHUCK:**Yeah, I have that same problem but [crosstalk] my hard drive – I keep running – I’ll give you a concrete example, like you're running into warnings on the storage of my hard drive because my Macbook Pro has a 256 GB hard drive in it, and it keeps running out of space. Now Granite, I keep doing things that will fill up the space but it’s really inconvenient. So at what point do I decide, “Okay, I’m going to invest the $500 to get – or $600, I don’t remember because I just did this. But I bought a terabyte SSD for my Macbook Pro.**ERIC: Yeah, like at what point is you taking five hours to clean off 20 GB off your laptop worth. CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC: Or like, yeah I think with that it’s hard because it’s like it’s kind of the same with what we just talked about, especially with computers you have a switching cost. It’s like if you're going to get a whole new laptop there’s a switching cost of going into it and software migration stuff is made a lot easier but it’s still – time is still a productivity impact. And stuff like hard drive stuff where it’s just huge amount of data you got to go through and it can’t really have software help you with very much. Like I’ve come to the conclusion of when my disk starts filling up I have – I run a program to see what the biggest things are and just show as much of that on to like a NAS that I have. Or like in your case you got a new SSD, or maybe get a USB, new hard drives or whatever. I think the only way around that really is what I do whenever I get a new computer or when I’m getting ready to is I find a good one for me, and then I max out the RAM on the computer and max out the hard drive until it’s stupid. Like it doesn’t make sense to get a 15 TB SSD for 20 grand just because I want to have my hardware where it’s going to last as long as possible and I don’t have to deal with those upgrades and stuff like that. CHUCK: Yeah. It was something I hadn’t considered when I bought it, but the other thing is is I finally got to the point because it was happening frequently enough to where I would actually have to spend half hour or so, figuring out what to move off to Dropbox or to a local USB hard drive. I’ve gotten to the point now where I think I’ll save time by replacing it and re-installing the OS. ERIC: Right. Yeah, I got to a point where I would be heavy in code, and my hard drive would fill up. And database transactions would fail, and so I would have to jump out of the code, figure out what family photos I need to move off or other BS. That’s where I went more extreme like, “Okay, I’m partitioning stuff off; I’m getting stuff off of my work computer,” and it’s also a good back up strategy, too. REUVEN: Yeah. I also have come close to filling up my hard drive in the last few months, and so I use – what’s it called – CleanMyMac, that’s what it’s called – CleanMyMac. And it works very nicely to identify the big files, and usually it’ll point to movies that I can delete, or database dumps from really old projects, or other things that I can get rid of. But I’ve also been doing videos for my book, and I’ve been putting them up for people to purchase the higher order – the higher tier packages. And those are not things that I can just serve and will eventually delete; those are things that I actually want to have around. That’s trying to become more of an acute problem, and I am probably going to need them, some sort of extra storage just stored in there instead. Yeah, it’s more of an issue than I expected, because in the past I was just like, “Well, I can just get rid some of the old podcasts or some of the old movies.” And now that I have more video content it’s becoming more of an issue. And I typically, when I buy a laptop my assumption is I’m going to run the thing into the ground for about three or four years. And when it’s begging for mercy that’s when I get a new one, and this is quite a bit a kink in my plan. ERIC: Yeah, one clan I worked with they do a lot of that stuff. They have a company policy; I think it’s every 24 months but they might’ve changed it to every 18 months. They upgrade their laptops whether there’s a new one in the horizon or not, like that’s the policy. The company policy is you get a new laptop fully upgraded as high as Apple will let you go, and then the other one is you get transitions in test machines in stuff like that just because they don’t ever want to hit that like I’m limping along or I’m running at 85% productivity versus 100% CHUCK: Yup. JONATHAN: Yeah, a lot of productivity costs are almost certainly way bigger than the cost of having a hard drive that’s twice as big. I have the same situation as Reuven when I started podcasting seriously. All of a sudden my 11-inch Macbook Air wasn’t cutting it. I think it had – I think it was a 64 GB SSD? I think that’s what it was. All of a sudden I was always over 80%. CHUCK: Uh-hm. JONATHAN: So it was fine before that because I purposely didn’t – I didn’t have any music on my work machine, I didn’t have anything, any big binary files like that on my work machine; XCode was like the biggest thing. Once it became clear that I was going to be podcasting for a long time, from that on now I stopped buying the base model of whatever machine I wanted and I started making sure that I have enough, so that my typical usage should be below 50% so I should never even have to think about it. And whatever my current usage was then, that would dictate which machine I bought. That stuff like what Chuck was saying about deciding what stuff to delete, it’s brutal and sometimes you screw up. And you’re like, “Aghhh!” CHUCK: Uh-hm. JONATHAN: I really needed that even though it was from an old project. ERIC: I’d say, one thing that helped me a lot, I bought a – it’s a home NAS, so network attached storage; basically a miniature computer hard drive’s in. I got the one that has two spots for hard drives and there in a raid, so that’s basically a mirrored copy off everything which help with backups and all that. And I think I have – I think it’s 1 TB of space on there, and so anything large that I’m done working on, like after I render the videos out, I’ll put the source files on there; I’ll put photos on there – all that stuff on there. And so it’s still accessible, I can still get to it from WiFi or I think it can be at Ethernet, but it’s – I don’t have to worry about cleaning off my computer. And I’m eventually going to upgrade, but I think I’m looking at some 4 TB drives some of the upgrades, then I’ll just get a bunch more space, and these things are cheap. Mine is – I think it costs maybe 200 bucks without the drives, and then the drives at 150 each will get you that. And just the amount of savings and time. I mean, that’s fast enough that you can actually do some work off of those files so that I can actually render video off of that instead of transferring to my laptop. But just time saving wise it’s amazing. CHUCK: To throw some brand names out, are you talking about a Drobo or a Synology or something? ERIC: Yeah, yeah I have the Synology, or how do you pronounce it, it’s an older model. But I mean, even I worked with a couple of companies, how they build enterprise upgrade runs and it’s just amazing to have this huge amount of storage on the network type thing. CHUCK: That’s awesome. ERIC: Although frankly, I would say I priced it out a while ago. You can get the USB thumb drives. I think I got a hundred – these are 128 GB thumb drive for extremely cheap. We’re using that to just throw files on and put in a safe as a secondary disconnected back-up. Those things get so cheap you could use those, and especially if like USB 3.0 speeds, they can function almost as fast as your actual main internal drives. CHUCK:**I want to veer this back towards the equipment purchases though because like Synology, so that’s a 150 bucks; I’m looking at it on Amazon right now. And that’s the two [inaudibe] that you were talking about. And then you’ve got the hard drives to go in it, so you probably going to spend – let’s just say you spend $300 given the whole thing together. So then, have you justified that? Because, again, it’s kind of a backup situation where I can push this stuff to Dropbox or I could do all these other different things. So how do you decide that that’s the way to go and that you're going to spend the money on it?**ERIC: Now, what I do is I watch my time. I mean, you know when I start – I know my hourly rate that I can bill. If I start having to dig into that amount of time that I should be billing to a client to do IT and actually track this time in my project management system, then I know it’s like, “Okay, I need to solve this. This is a problem in my business,” whether it’s grown or just I’m not moving assets around in to the right way. If it’s not a huge problem, like it comes up every now and then, it might get kind of pushed out like, “Okay, well next month I have time to mess with this and I might have some additional money for it and I can budget for it,” so push it out. If it’s something like it’s urgent – like there’s one time it was every week I was having problems with disk space and resources, and I basically – that was the time when I’m like, “Okay, time to just buy a brand new top-of-the-line laptop.” And I have to move stuff around to find the money just because at that time I had a cash full of crunch. But it was like it’s either that or I can’t bill my client, which means I’m not going to bring in as much. It’s hard to really have a hard set, like at this point do this, but if you have a little bit of weariness of how much time you're spending, or even if you haven’t invested money to keep old equipment running, that’s the time to consider upgrading or getting something new. CHUCK: I guess my other grey area money pit is audio equipment. And I just love this stuff, I think it’s cool. I’d like to buy it and have it and play with it and use it. But I have a system that has worked well for me for the last few years. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out whether or not I should buy what I’m looking at because I’m justifying it, right? Or sometimes I actually need it, and sometimes figuring out whether or not it’s the one or the other’s hard. JONATHAN: I mean, I’m a musician so you just totally speak my language there. Like there’s no guitar that’s too expensive for me to think it’s probably worth it. But for me, that’s stuff – it’s really a money thing, like the more I spend the better it would be, but I can’t afford anywhere near the top-of-the-line. And especially for me, music is a hobby now; it was serious for a while but it’s definitely a hobby now. I can’t justify the purchase so, it’s definitely categorized as a birthday present type of thing. It’s definitely a luxury. That said, there’s a big difference between a really fine crafted precision instrument and an okay instrument. And if you are making a living with that instrument, all this I’m like at – well, actually no we’re not all Mac people. Eric, you're a Linux guy, right? ERIC: Yeah. JONATHAN:**Yeah, so but for the Mac people – Mac people obviously care about this. Linux people obviously don’t. [Laughter] Kidding. You know what, if your main instrument of your job is a fountain pen and a pad of paper, or a guitar or a laptop – something that you're spending 8/10/12 hours a day touching and manipulating and just basically doing your job with, I feel like there’s an emotional component that is tough to describe. And I guess what I’m saying is that for things like that, which are probably very few, there’s probably three things in your daily carry that are like this to you, like your fall in your laptop and I don’t know what. Maybe you're no booking pan or something. Those things are like, totally spend as much as you possibly can to get the best possible thing you can because it’s going to change your whole attitude about doing your job everyday. And if you just look at it a dollar and cents for those things, like your tools – your really key tools – I think it gets hard to justify because it’s kind of unquantifiable. But there are all sorts of great emotional benefits like you just feel like a professional. You feel like you can focus on what you're trying to do, and your junkie laptop’s not distracting you from trying to get it done. And there’s this weird side benefits too where when you're out and about, you kind of get perceived as more professional because you’ve got this really top-of-the-line gear; obviously, this person is really serious about their profession. It’s super true with instruments; it’s maybe a little less true with laptops or something but it’s definitely there. I have – I don’t know, maybe I’m just imagining it. But I’ve sensed an increased level of trust in my capabilities as a consultant based on stuff I have with me, if you know what I mean. So there’s like – it’s like really hard to put a dollar and cents thing on for the really core stuff. I think just spend as much as you can on that stuff and go with it.**REUVEN: I mean, I definitely have a set of tools that I use in my day to day work especially when I’m lecturing, that I definitely feel like it’s a well-oiled machine. So I use the three or four main tools that I’m using when I’m lecturing say on Python or with Emacs, or with Keynote. I’m going to have iPhython Notebook and actually there’s something else, so let’s say three things. And if I have those things available and they're customized, and they’re exactly the way that I set the up to work, then yeah, I look like a confident professional because it works exactly the way that I want. I know what to expect and so it looks amazing. And just yesterday – I’m in Nanjing, China now – and yesterday when I was starting my course, I actually forgot my – this is one of those great Apple things, right? I forgot the video cord for my computer back in my hotel. So I got it at lunch time, but for the first two to three hours of my lecture, I was using someone else’s laptop. And the way I described it with my students is I felt like I was driving someone else’s car. It’s like, “Ugh! The thing is here, and – oh it’s there, and the –.” It just didn’t feel right. And I know that I didn’t look nearly as good as I do when I’m on my own machines. So I definitely think that investing both my money and the time in the tools that will flow with you easily, invest is truly worthwhile both from a productivity perspective and from a political, how-you-come-off-looking perspective. JONATHAN: Yeah. I put it in my contracts that I will present off of my laptop, not on somebody else’s, not even another Mac. You can't do it. It’s like all of a sudden my hands don’t work. I’m like, “How do I operate a machine?” CHUCK: I know, right? Even in best case scenario, you're working off of Keynote slides and you have your own little clicker, and it all plugs in and it all sort of works; but the second you try and demo something you go off script. You're host! REUVEN: Fortunately in Israel, almost everyone uses Windows. And so if I’m at a conference and I’m supposed to speak, and they say, “Oh, well we’ll just put your presentation on our machine and we’ll use it from there.” And I say ‘no’, and they give me a bit of a push back. And I say, “Well, you don’t have Keynote running on your Windows machine, do you?” And I get this nice blank stare and I say, “Yeah, I’ll just use my machine.” CHUCK: Yeah. So are there other areas of expense that we haven’t really talked about? I guess one other thing that I’m thinking about is like the chair I’m sitting in is a rather nice chair. It’s a Herman Miller Aeron, which is super comfortable and makes a big difference for me just being able to get stuff done and have an environment that I’m comfortable working in. but I don’t know that everybody needs a $900 chair. And sometimes I wonder if I should’ve spent the money on it. Even though it’s a super nice chair and I can adjust it to be supportive however I need it to be, but do you find yourself buying hardware like that and how do you make those calls? JONATHAN: Not to sound like a broken record, but anything that I’m using everyday, I spend as much as I can afford to spend on. And pretty much that is work stuff only; I don’t do – I barely do any family stuff everyday. So, I don’t even sleep in the same place everyday. But work, I do this – everyday, same laptop; everyday, same bag; everyday, same pan; everyday, same fonts; everyday, same chair if I’m going to sit down that day. If I’m not going to sit down, everyday, same standing desk. So I blow cash on that stuff because, I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy. But it just changes my whole attitude about like – it’s like going to my safe place I guess. I don’t know. CHUCK: I was going to say, is that a facilitate routine? Or is it so that as you're using stuff it just doesn’t glitch? JONATHAN:**It’s more about the friction. It’s – yeah, it’s glitching. It’s like, imagine a phone that had a three second delay on every interaction. It will drive you insane. And that’s what it’s like when – like recently I re-organized my desk and I spent probably two hours organizing the cables because they’ve gotten into a bit of a rat’s nest. And every time I went to plug something in it was this – err! – like this friction of – God. Untying this wire that’s hooked on a garbage can and it was driving me bananas. It’s dumb – it was so silly, that silly little thing. So I got my little cable organizers and I set it up on the desk and I got my little work space all set up. And it was like my shoulders came down two inches after I had it all – you know. I took a picture of it for crying out loud. I was like, “Agh, perfect!” I don’t know, maybe it’s because we work for ourselves or we work from home or whatever and we need to setup our space that way, but even at my corporate jobs, I’d like to have my work space set up so you could just show up and immediately get productive. I don’t know if I – this is a little bit – I guess this is a tangent, I’ll keep it really short. But I recently read an article by Sean D’Souza who wrote The Brain Audit, and he does this thing where he doesn’t close any of his open windows and his applications on his laptop. He just closes the laptop, goes somewhere else or comes back the next day and opens it up, and there are all the tabs is right where he left off, which was ho – like I laughed out loud when I read that because that is the exact opposite of what I do. Like every time at the end of the day, I’d close all the tabs and then I clean the desktop and everything be organized, and next day I start from scratch. But I gave it a try and even in small of a – switching cogs again – even as small as it is, that cognitive load of re-opening all those same five tabs that I keep opening all day – calendar, Basecamp, GitHub, email – whatever. Every single day I close those and then I re-open; then I close them and then re-open. I even have a script that would open them for me automatically, but then I had to wait for them to open. Now I just leave them open, and I can't tell you why but it’s better, and it’s the same thing with my gear. Like I want my gear to be ready for me; I shouldn’t have to wait for my gear. You don’t want to be around me when my computer’s running slow [chuckles].**REUVEN: Yeah. My brother-in-law’s a physical therapist and so every time he would come to visit, he’d see me at my cheap old chair, and my card table that I use as a desk, it would just drive him bananas. So I thin about two years already, I invested in a better chair. Maybe nor a fancy one like Chuck, but better certainly. And it’s definitely a good feeling. Maybe it’s more than two years ago, but not much more and it definitely feels more productive, it feels more comfortable. As Jonathan said, if you're going to sit for many hours a day at your desk, you should feel comfortable so it’s definitely a place that’s worth spending some money on. CHUCK: Yeah, this does remind me of one other thing that I’m a little curious on and that is that –. So I’ve been eyeing standing desks for a while, and I hear other people say, “Yeah, they’re great and I love those. I love how I feel standing up,” and all that stuff, which makes sense to me, but I’m not 100% convinced that I’m going to use one. And so I’m not sure I want to go spend four or $500 dollars on – even the kind of moderately priced standing desk. So on something like that, if it’s like a recurring service, like you’re all set and I completely agree because that’s what I do, too, you try it out for a while and you just cancel the service; but you can't really cancel your standing desk. Is there a good way to try it before you buy it with the physical things? ERIC: Yeah, like what I did with that, my wife actually worked at a company that made them. And so when she started working there, we find out there’s a very sizeable employee discount. What I did is that I took my existing desk, which was just cheap, the IKEA one. I actually had – I got the extendable legs on so it’d go higher. I did that and I’m taller as it is so I had to put a whole bunch of weird things underneath it and then on top of it. I basically made a fake standing desk; kind of like the hacks you see all over the place now with that. But I did that and tried that for about a month, I think, and actually gave it a good try on. It’s like, “Okay, yeah, I could see this working for me.” And the benefit was that that’s the company my wife worked at. They – they’re not standing desks; they’re sit and stand. They have the hydraulics so they go up and down. And so I was like, “Okay, worst case, I’d buy this, I can’t use this standing and I would just have a very expensive, very nice quality desk that I sit at. And they’re way more sturdier than the cheap IKEA ones I had and all that. So I was like, “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll get one and try it out.” That – it actually works so good that I actually have two now. I have one that’s my main one, and it actually can fit a treadmill underneath it. And then I have another one that, basically it’s like my backup desk – a second desk; it has the Mac on I want to do multimedia stuff and all that. But giving – kind of what I said of the – even the SaaS stuff, I did an experiment. I was like, “Okay, for the next 30 days I’m going to try this; if the results are positive I’m going to move forward; if the results are negative, I won’t do it.” And in some things like chairs and stuff like that I can't even be able to return them to the store. A lot of the higher end equipment, they have very good return policies or warranties on them. So if it doesn’t quite work out, you might be able to exchange it, get a different size, a different fit, or even just get your money back completely. JONATHAN: A standing desk is a really specific example; they’re not for everyone. I love it, but I knew I was going to love it because I was cobbling it together, like Eric said, out of stools and tables and bureaus for a year before I dropped the coin on one; but they’re definitely not for everyone. I have friends who’ve invested with them and regretted it, so it’s definitely –. So for something like that, if you can't return it, then definitely do the experiment because that’s – they’re not cheap. I don’t know how that applies to other big – I can’t actually think of another big purchase. ERIC:**I mean, know that when I could see is like if you get a huge monitor, like a 30-inch monitor that are like a grand or so. Maybe – I found a 24-inch monitors were extremely cheap and they were almost as big so I actually bought two of those and was using those for a while. They were a pretty good size and I adjusted it so they mimic the size of a 30-inch. I ended up not buying the 30-inch because one of those broke on the warranty return. I got it upgraded to a 26-inch, which is just enough; I don’t need a large one. But even that, if you bought one there might be a 30-day return policy on a huge monitor like that. But I think what you need to do is you need to go into it with, “Here’s the conditions that I’m going to say that this is good, or here’s the conditions that I’m going to say it’s bad,” and be very definite about it. Don’t go into it saying, “I think this will work for me,” and kind of [inaudible] and kind of miss out on that opportunity to go back on the purchase.**JONATHAN: Another big area for me that I think is a missed topic is travel expenses. I don’t know if that’s a good topic to explore. CHUCK: Yeah, I think it’s something – at least I can talk about it. I flew back from Fort Worth yesterday so at least top of mind for me. JONATHAN: Yeah. I’d take the Alan Noyes position that you should be as first-class as possible because it has all kinds of –. Again, if you do the math it’s not going to make sense, but when you spend a night at a Ritz instead of La Quinta before an important client meeting, it makes a major difference in your attitude and your –. The whole experience of going into a really nice hotel, which is probably two or three, maybe even four times more expensive than your cheapest option, you’re going to have a completely different mindset the next morning when you walk into that meeting, or you walk into that presentation; or you go to that conference to deliver a Keynote. You’re going to feel like a rock star. If you stay at a La Quinta or whatever, not to bash on them, but like a budget hotel, it’s going to be a gross room with gross sheets and a gross shower, terrible service, just like no service frankly; and broken heater and everything. No iron, or the iron ruins your shirt – it’s just unbelievable. For the extra money, I have never regretted staying at a really nice place. And I’ve even – I used to go to Miami a lot, and for some reason the airline I used to take – I think it was American. If first class wasn’t full, you could upgrade to first class for a hundred bucks, and I do it every single time because you end up making this crazy business contacts and hearing amazing stories. And I’m not the kind of guy to talk on a plane either, but it’s just a comfortable seat, tons of room, free food and beverage. Is it worth a hundred bucks, you know, for the whatever – a free wine? No, but the overall user experience is so pristine, and travel is so horrible. If you're travelling all the time, it really hurts, it really is bad. So doing things like this that might sound like a waste of money, a splurge or something, has a major – at least for me – a major psychic benefit that translates into the delivery of whatever service I’m there to provide. CHUCK:**Yeah, I can add to that. So usually when I fly, I wind up flying coach, which is I get to the hotel and I’m just like, “Okay. I’m just gonna die and I don’t want to be around any people at all for the next 24 hours,” which isn’t something you could usually do when you're going to a conference – when I fly in anyway. But this last trip, the cost for me to upgrade to first class was $30 each way. And so I did it; I was just like, [chuckles] that’s kind of a no brainer. I’ll do that.**JONATHAN: Yeah, totally. CHUCK: It was a two and a half hour flight so it wasn’t awful anyway. But when I got to Dallas, I was pretty refreshed. I felt – I didn’t feel like I have been crammed in a little box and shipped across the country. It felt good; I got to meet some interesting people. In the first-class cabin, you’re the first one’s on and the first ones off the plane. It just really paid off. And plus one on the other deal, too. I've done travel where I wind up staying at some budget hotel somewhere. Yeah, I wake up from that with – probably worst off than when I went to sleep because the bed is not comfortable in that place and stuff like that. But I stay – I usually stay at a conference hotel if I’m going to a conference. It’s just way nice. REUVEN:**I would normally like – when I fly it’s usually pretty long distances, like from Israel to China, form Israel to the US. And I can basically sleep anywhere, I’m fine; so I’m tall, so I’d prefer to have more leg room but that’s less and less possible on most airlines. And so far it’s been pretty rare for me to be able to fly anything other than coach mostly because it’s simply my clients paying. But there are different ways that you can route me to different places, and so I finally put my foot down this time and I said, “Okay, this is the last I’m flying to China via Moscow.” It’s horrible. And I have a terrible travel experience so far; it’s going to get worst when I go back to Israel. And definitely on vacations when I’ve flown, even in business class, I definitely arrive happier, more refreshed and everything. And I would have, until a few days ago, said, “Ah, c’mon Jonathan a fancier hotel doesn’t really make that much of a difference.” In this past weekend I was in Shanghai and someone said, “Oh, I never stay at regular hotels. I stay at – because in China I assume a place like this exists elsewhere – executive apartments.” And I was like, “Okay, that’s sounds interesting.” And then I get to Nanjing two days ago and that’s where they put me. And let me tell you, it is the best. [Chuckles] It is just so great, I’ve got a bedroom, I’ve got a living room, I’ve got a kitchen, and I feel really great about it. And so I’m definitely going to put [inaudible] at what Jonathan has said about being in a nicer hotel. I feel like I can work here. I don’t feel like I’m crammed in somewhere terrible. The staff’s gone out of its way – crazy out of its way to accommodate me on the very few things I need. So I may start becoming more demanding or more selective when clients want me to go places given my experience here and how positive it was.**JONATHAN: Maybe this isn’t partly in-age thing, like I did sleep on the backseat of a van and floors and crashing on people’s couches back in my musician days. Like I’m just so over that. But maybe it’s not an age thing, so who knows. The other thing that you brought up that I feel – I forgot to mention is that if I’m flying around, taking – flying around, upgrading myself to first-class and staying at The Ritz, I never charge my clients for that. That’s, in fact, one of the things that I put in my contract is that when somebody hires me, I pay for all – I make all my travel arrangements and lodging and I pay for them all out of my own pocket. So I never get in to the conversation of like, “Oh boy, you know in our dime – you sure like to live that up, don’t you?” So then it’s always up to me to say, “Oh you know I can stay wherever I want; I can spend as much as I want, and I never have to answer to anybody about – I don’t have to explain to someone in the accounting department why I spent $3,000 to get there. REUVEN: Yeah right. In my case, basically, when I come to China it’s through a company that includes my travel in their budgeting. And so when I complain to the past about some of the travel arrangements that went well, going on et al directly, that would break the bank into the budget. So there’s no way for me to break it out but I can totally see how that solved that problem right away. CHUCK: Yeah. The one thing with travel that I have been trying to figure out lately is whether or not it’s worth it to take a taxi on on Uber to the hotel as supposed to renting a car. REUVEN:**Oh, interesting. I never rent a car [crosstalk], I so much prefer either public transportation or taxis or Uber or whatever. Actually, I just used Uber for the first time last week in Shanghai. What a great deal! I really enjoyed it a lot.**CHUCK: Yeah. The issue is that I’ve been jerked around by taxi drivers, and so I’ll get on my phone, I’ll tell it to a map out how to get to where we’re going and they drive halfway around the city before they get there and stuff like that, but it still winds up being cheaper than renting a car. And the other thing is though is that when I get in to town, a lot of times I want to want to go to a convenience store and pick up a few things. I just like having a few snacks around and stuff especially because a lot of times I run into blood sugar issues and it costs a ton to get food from the hotel; so I usually am dealing with something like that. So, I rented cars in the past but – and taxis are just prohibited to drive you to Walgreens and back or something. JONATHAN: I try never to use taxis. Before Uber I would always get a town car if I could, and would – crazily, they’re almost the same price as a taxi. CHUCK: Oh really? JONATHAN:**Oh yeah. They’re barely any more money, or at least in my experience they’ve – maybe you’re going to spend 35-45 with tip for a taxi, and it’s like 60 for a town car. But the town car guy’s not going to bug you in the town car, it’s clean [crosstalk], it’s comfortable air conditioning – you set the windows down and blowing you all over the place. I used to do it regularly especially back and forth to the airport in my hometown. And I’d spent 80 bucks for a 12 minute drive because they are guaranteed to show up when they’re going to show up, the experience was always perfect, and I could just walk out off the car, it was pre-paid, I don’t have to worry about anything. The guy was pre-tipped, I just get out of the car –. You know, at five o’clock in the morning I’m not feeling that talkative, so you just walk out of the house, the guy grabs your bags, stores them in the trunk; you slide in the back of his slick car and next thing you know you're at the airport and you're at your gate. But I haven’t used them once since Uber came to town. Uber’s ten times cheaper, same quality experience, I’ve never had a problem with it even when somebody did make a wrong turn or something, Uber themselves e-mails you late and is like, “Hey, we noticed that there was a shorter route between your two points, so we’re going to give you a refund for the difference.”**ERIC: Wow! CHUCK: That’s awesome. ERIC: That is brilliant. JONATHAN:**Uber’s crushing it, but they're not in every town. So advice for travelers is I would try Uber first and then try black car service from the hotel and back. You’ll probably find that it’s barely – it’ll be a little, maybe 10 or 20% more expensive than a taxi. [Crosstalk]**CHUCK: Oh, totally worth it. JONATHAN: You don’t have to wait in a line, doesn’t smell like smoke – all that stuff. CHUCK: Well, in for my quirk, they’re totally fine to stop wherever on the way in. JONATHAN: Yeah, absolutely. CHUCK:**Yeah, the taxi driver’s all roll their eyes when I’m like, “Hey, I want to stop at a convenience store and I want to stop at this other place. And then I want to go to the hotel and then just like, ‘Ohh’.” [Laughter]**JONATHAN: I know. The tood on my taxi driver. In my town the taxi drivers have the most unbelievable attitudes. CHUCK: Yeah. JONATHAN: It’s not worth putting up with. CHUCK: Agree. ERIC: A lot of this kind of thinking through the travel, going back through the equipment like chair, computer; even all “I’m running out of hard drive space”, a lot of this comes back to it might not be worth it financially but if you factor in the health cost, the mental cost, the I’m-going-to-get-pissed-off-with-my-computer-I-want-to-throw-it-out-of-the-window cost. Getting these upgrades or getting a higher end services actually has a high positive ROI. And I think a lot of people – especially when you first are aware of it, you don’t notice that sort of thing. There has been times where I would literally want to throw my desktop out of the window and it would affect me for the rest of the day and I wouldn’t be as productive. And having a quality laptop now, like, I don’t ever deal with that, and so I think that’s something that you need to factor in to what you're doing. It’s like how is this actually going to help me? Because you're selling your services that’s based on your experience, your skills, your knowledge, your creativity. And if there’s things, like what Jonathan was saying, there’s friction affecting that and making that worst, you're services aren’t going to be as valuable. And so I think getting rid of that friction, whatever it ends up being, that’s usually valuable. Even for me, I found exercise helps me and that’s something that’s pretty much a low cost as it is a time commitment, but that’s helped me become more creative, which has helped me do better things for my clients, which has helped me charge more, which means I bill more, which means I get more revenue I can take more time off for exercise. And it actually gets into this really nice cycle of, I have this nice stuff, this nice life, this nice lifestyle because I started investing into places and removing friction from it. JONATHAN: Yeah. I feel like this is starting to verge into mentality area which is probably a good thing to bring up, which is the difference between a poverty mentality and an abundance mentality and it started like the difference between all this turning and cutting to cut cost and always – or versus trying to increase value or quality. It’s funny; maybe our opinions about this have a lot to do about what we sell, which is more of a value side. And none of us really offer commodities, which is the flipside – that’s the cost side. So perhaps, I’m just wondering out loud if there’s a correlation between being able to offer services that add value instead of a pure cost-center. And our dedication and devotion to doing those sorts of things for ourselves, so we are internalize the value of that sort of thing – that kind of thing that maybe on a balance sheet doesn’t make sense, but experientially there’s no question. I don’t know, I feel like there must be a correlation there. I don’t think I could show up at a consulting gig with the CEO of a company. I had a meeting this morning with a CEO of a financial institution. I’m not going to show up in ratty clothes and a junky car and after staying at a crappy hotel, and be able to act like a peer of this person and be able to give them advice and like look at them straight in the eyes and say, “No, this is what you need to do.” You know what I mean? Maybe it’s shallow, I feel a little shallow saying that but it’s not just a question of who the expert is, like how smart you are or what’s right or what’s what’s wrong; there’s like a lifestyle angle to it. Is that too weird? Maybe that’s too weird. CHUCK: No, it makes sense to me. I mean, it’s not – how you represent yourself is how, in a lot of cases, other people perceive you. And so, yeah, you want to show up as fresh and ready to go for your client as you can. JONATHAN: Yeah, but it’s also how I see myself. I am not going to put myself through these things – I don’t know. CHUCK: Well, somebody said something – I’m trying to remember. It was some time this weekend anyway, somebody was talking about speaking at conferences or attending conferences and the way you dress. Yeah, it was over lunch with David Brace; it was last Monday. But he mentioned that when you dress up and things like that, it’s much easier if you're dressing that way frequently. I think it really comes down to how you see yourself. So you don’t walk in acting like ‘I’ve dressed up for this’; you walk in feeling comfortable the way that you are presented because it’s congruent with who you are. ERIC: It’s also more than that too, like prod the ‘fake it until you make it’. I was at a micro-conf and there’s two people there – well, a couple more than that. There’s two I noticed that had nice jeans on, nice polo on, but they have like a sports jacket on and I was like, “Wow, they dress really nice.” And then come to find out talked with one and he actually just bought that the week before. He’d never worked before in his entire life. Just look at him in the crowd, he looks like an important person that I’d want to talk to. It wasn’t an expensive one, it wasn’t fancy brand name but he wanted to feel more of a consultant that he is and so that’s what he did. JONATHAN:**Yeah, there’s something to it. I think we talked about my shoe fetish on this show before [chuckles]?CHUCK: No. JONATHAN: I will spend coin on shoes because first of all I think they are good investment because they last forever and assuming my feet don’t change size. They're comfortable, they look good, and people notice shoes. Like speaking of the jacket, I’ve had entire conference panels turn to a conversation about my shoes. Like, “if he’s wearing those shoes I’m listening to him, literally.” CHUCK:[Chuckles] That’s awesome! There are psychological things. And it’s psychological on you, too right? The way you dress, the way you look and the way you feel like you look?**JONATHAN:**Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you want to be more like, “Oh, I’m going to pull out my nice pants,” and you pull them out of the closet and they don’t fit right anymore. [Chuckles] They're more threadbare than you remembered, but man the meeting’s in 15 minutes, I got to strap these things on somehow. It’s like – I don’t know, I almost just said it’s just not professional, but there’s more to it than that. It’s something about self-respect in your – the world. You're worth investing in, so invest in yourself.**REUVEN:**I must admit that wearing fancy clothes does not really make me feel any different at all. There’s definitely a difference between t-shirt, jeans and sandals and button down shirt, jeans and sandals. I’ll agree to that, but putting on fancy shoes all I can think of is, “Oh, oh my God, these things are so annoying.” [Chuckles]JONATHAN: Yeah, because you never spend good money on them! REUVEN:[Laughter] No, no, I have good shoes. And I’m married to an art historian and curator so she’s also always nudging me like, “You know, you really should dress better.” I’m like, “You know I’m really comfortable.”**JONATHAN: Yeah, I’m comfortable too. I normally wear flip-flops and shorts, probably just like you do, but I couldn’t – if I shambled into a meeting with a big financial institution, they’d laugh me out of there even though I could be the smartest guy in the world. I could have a million dollar idea for them, but if I walked in there with flip-flops on and said like, “Hey guys, ‘sup!” REUVEN:**I recognize that. That’s the thing I mean you were saying that you get dressed to fancy for yourself; I totally recognize. In Israel, no one really cares how you [crosstalk] dress. But when I’m in China, so I always lecture with a button down shirt, whereas in Israel they would think I was on my way to a wedding or something.JONATHAN: Well, yeah there’s a whole question of you don’t want to be overdressed either. Like if they’re wearing a bikini you want to have shorts on. If they’re wearing shorts you want to have pants on. You want to be like just a level up. Like if I walked into Facebook with a three piece suit on, they would also like me. Right, unless it was a hipster three piece suit in which case they’d probably like me. CHUCK:[Chuckles] I want to see Jonathan in a zuit suit.JONATHAN:[Chuckles] That’ll be something. No, I don’t go nuts, just like nice shoes, nice khaki pants, button-down shirt – ironed, ironed, ironed – all that stuff.CHUCK: Yup. JONATHAN: I don’t go tie if it’s not an outerwear jacket. You know, standard consultant wear. It’s not hard, just go on to Brooks Brothers and tell them to stay up with the mannequin. CHUCK:[Chuckles] I want what he’s wearing. Alright, well shall we get to some picks?**REUVEN: Sure. JONATHAN: Sure. CHUCK: Alright. Reuven, do you have some picks for us? REUVEN:**Yeah, so I’ve got some picks. So two of them actually. One of them is – well, I’ve been trying as I said, I’m trying to – you might have heard – restrict people’s access to many services on the internet. Basically, if you travel here you’d need a VPN, and I’ve been using for probably about a year or so now, this company called ExpressVPN. And it’s consistently ranked as really easy to install. And one other thing – and any lesser known VPN the Chinese government tends to crack down on it less, so it only gets disconnected every few hours. So I’ve been very happy with them, and it seems to work most of the time. It gives me access to my service. But I actually found that even if I’m not in China, sometimes if I’m working at a client’s office and they give me internet access, it’s highly restricted – I can’t download my mail or I can’t go to various websites. And so I’ve actually found it handy to have VPN service on my computer just because it gives me the freedom to do what I want and not have to worry about their various policies. The second thing is I’ve been reading this book called the Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits. And basically, it’s a reporter who found a bunch of young people who just graduated from college, and they went to work on Wall Street. And they were all excited about, “Oh, we’re going to be at finance; we’re going to make a lot of money. It’s so exciting and terrific.” And basically, not all of them but many of them like, “Oh my God, I’m working crazy hours for good money but not amazing money. And I’m being abused, and do I really need this in my life?” And some of the people take to it just fine, but first of all it made me feel even more thankful for my work and the fact that I have such freedom. And second of all, I think it’s very instructive to see how much people are willing to put themselves through chasing an illusion of, “Well, if I just get through the first three years, then it’ll be great. If I just get through the first three years, it’ll be great.” And as he points out there – at least on Wall Street; it’s probably true in life in general – you're always going to find someone who’s more successful, who’s richer, who’s whatever ‘-er’ than you are, as if you're always comparing yourself to the other people, then you're just never going to be satisfied. And so, take a step back and say, “You know, I actually think things are pretty good.” That means that [inaudible] it’s a nice sort of upside of the book as well. Anyway, those are my picks for this week.**CHUCK: Awesome. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: Alright, I got two. One is a comic strip that’s pretty relevant. It’s CommitStrip. The title of this one is A Very Common Coder’s Youthful Mistake. It’s a funny one especially talking about equipment. The second one is an article called – get the breathe air – The one thing every aspiring freelancer, college student or person with access to a time machine should know. It’s by Paul Jarvis. It’s an interesting one, kind of a little bit about like meta, about business kind of thinking about that. I think whether you're full-time freelancing, you’ve been doing a part time; you're thinking about it, I think it’s kind of a good read to get an idea and see a little bit of the mental game of running your own business. That’s it. CHUCK: Alright. Jonathan, what are your picks? JONATHAN: First is a gadget pick I’ve been dying to get my hands on on Amazon Echo, and ours finally showed up yesterday. CHUCK: That’s so cool. JONATHAN:**Oh man is it great. It’s roughly the size of a Pringles can and you stand it upright like you put it on a kitchen counter, plug it to the wall. And I have never felt more like I was living in the future than when I plugged that thing in the first time. It’s kind of like Siri – people are probably familiar with Siri, like the voice assistant on the iPhone, but it’s for your house and it is so much more useful in such a different way when it’s in your environment and it’s just always there. I just got it the other day but I’m [crosstalk]**REUVEN: I remember seeing the video for it, and I remember the reaction was so incredibly negative. I thought to myself, “Why do you feel negative? It seems incredibly cool and useful.” So I’m happy here it is. JONATHAN:**Yeah. The video was – the video felt a little contrived because they – of course the example’s all jammed together. But in the context of a day, you start to talk to it, and so now the weird thing about it is there’s – it’s beautifully designed. And it has this – the top edge is a circle, and it’s got this LED multi-colored LED light ring around it. And it does all sorts of things to indicate that it’s listening, that it’s looking at you, that it heard you, that it’s processing. Think like – it’s not like –. I’m trying to think of like a Star Wars robot or Star Trek but I can't think of one. None of them really have lights – maybe R2-D2. But it feels, very quickly, like something that I almost – not a part of the family, but it feels like a new assistant. It feels like there’s an assistant in your house. Not quite a person, of course, but you can just stay stuff to it. Alexa, all the time – Alexa play the martian from Audible, and the book starts playing. Our Alexa, “Play it. Wait, don’t tell me.” Alexa plays Jimi Hendrix on Pandora. And I should mention that the thing itself is a Bluetooth speaker, and a really nice sounding one, in fact. And then you can say, “Alexa, turn it up. Alex, turn it down. Alexa stop, pause, resume.” All these stuff. And it’s all stuff that everybody’s familiar with from their phones, but I can't tell you how much different it is to have it not in your pocket. You do not have to pull it out; it’s always on, it’s always listening. And man, for a 179 bucks it is pretty sweet. It also, you can connect it to IFTTT to automate other things in your life. You can use it to control you hue light bulbs if you have those. It is very very full-featured, incredibly well-done; the voice recognition is jaw-dropping. And it’s only –. [Crosstalk]**ERIC:**Is it only [inaudible]?**JONATHAN: Nope. I mean it works better with prime but you don’t have to use prime; you can have it re-order things. Alexa, remind me to get bread. Alexa, prepare my shopping list – all of these stuff. It syncs instantly and seamlessly across iOS and Android devices. It’s unbelievable! I mean, they did a great job on this thing. CHUCK: Do you get to name it? You keep saying Alexa instead of Echo. JONATHAN:**And also, yeah. So Echo is the device; Alexa is Amazon’s new voice service. [Crosstalk]**CHUCK: Oh, okay. JONATHAN: So Echo’s like an iPhone and Alexa is like Siri. So, Alexa has been opened up to developers so that they can use Alexa inside of other applications. It just happens to be – it’s their own Siri. They’re trying to knock off Siri, but man did they do a better job than Siri. Yes, you can switch the name but you can always switch it to the only other option as Amazon, so you can say, “Amazon, add this to my list. Amazon, play this audible book.” It is really really amazing and unbelievably it hasn’t even been out. I think it was released earlier this year to the general public and it already has over 22,000 five star reviews on Amazon. I mean, everybody is digging this thing. It is really really worth the money. I’m already paying to buy another one for downstairs. CHUCK: That’s cool. REUVEN: DO they talk to each other then? Not ‘talk’ talk. “Alexa!” “Yes, Alexa?” “But I meant like –.” CHUCK:**That was really funny! [Laughter]**JONATHAN: It’s a good question because I’ve got a bunch of Android devices. When I say, “Okay, google –,” like 17 things asking me what I want. So I don’t know what’s going to happen if you have two in the same house and they're both of an earshot of each other, but there’s no way I’m leaving this one in the kitchen. I’m putting it in my office so I’ll probably have to pick another one for the kitchen. But it’s a great question. I’m not sure how they operate, they can flick in any way because you connect it to your WiFi and it goes directly to the internet. It’s not bluetoothing to your phone, although it can do that if you want to play stuff off your phone. It’s going straight to the internet with no intermediations, like right on your WiFi, go straight to Audible or Pandora or iHeartRadio or IFTTT or whatever. CHUCK: Oh, so you just hook it up to whatever services you want it to talk to and it just does it’s thing? CHUCK:**Yeah, you go to the app and you do the Olaf dance with whatever, you Google Calendar, et cetera. They did an amazing job; I cannot believe this is a version one product. It’s hilarious when you compare it to Fire Phone which is a complete and obvious disaster as soon as it was released. [Chuckles]**JONATHAN: That was a long pick so I’ll just leave it at that. CHUCK:Alright, well I’ve got a couple of things mostly related to Podcast Movement, which is the podcast – a conference that I went to this last weekend. First off I just want to shout out to the guys that I had dinner with on Thursday. They listened to some of the shows including this one. And just thanks to John and Steven Proctor for setting that up; that was awesome. And I’d really like to get to know people, so what I think I’m going to do is I really want to hear your feedback especially since past guest of the show – Kurt [inaudible] gave me some feedback. He said that he prefers the episodes where we don’t have guests. I think sometimes it’s nice to have guests so I can see – we have an awesome panel so sometimes I don’t think we take advantage of the awesomeness that we have here every week. But I want to hear your feedback; I want to hear - and not just about the show but specifically about the show I want to hear which episode you tend to like and what the show means to you. So is it a good source of information? Do you feel like you're listening to a bunch of buddies – I’m just throwing things out there for before about other shows in this show. Is it just something to pass the time while you're driving? I’m fine with any of that. And then, I’d also like to hear what challenges you have. And so what I’m going to do is, first off, we have a voice mail line. I haven’t put the number on the website and I ought to do that. So I’m going to go ahead and give you the voice mail number. If you want to just dial in and tell us what you think the number is 1-877 – this is a US number, obviously – 223-0342. And it has an option for this show, I think this number 3 or 4. But anyway, so you just listen and you can do that. The other thing is if you go to freelancershow.com/15minutes – that’s one-five-minutes all jammed together – it’ll take you to a place where you can actually get a 15 minutes slot on my calendar where I’ll talk to you over Skype. And I really do want to have these quick conversations about this and see who’s listening and what’s up and all that stuff. So yeah, go check that out – freelancershow.com/15minutes. So that’s all I’ve got. So we’ll wrap up the show. Thanks guys! That was a terrific discussion.JONATHAN: I agree. Thanks! REUVEN: Excellent. JONATHAN: Bye. REUVEN: Bye everyone! CHUCK: Bye. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Want to support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]**

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