We all have our favourite tools for what we do, here are my essential “strategy tools” for every freelance strategist
I could not live without my MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it keeps me connected and enables me to actually do my job! I opted for the 15″ both for relative cost and also portability, the MacBookAir is a great piece of kit but for me it does not have the oomph needed to work on it for up to 20 hours a day. The 15″ is easy to throw into my bag, pull out and boot up quickly when presenting and by using DropBox I can keep all my files securely in the cloud.
There is nowhere I go without my Moleskine Notebook notebook, I sketch out ideas pre-digitising and pre-sharing with business partners and friends to sense check. It keeps my ideas together and allows me to scribble storyboards for presentations and pitches as I travel around without people looking at my screen. Lovely premium feel to it and also use the slightly bigger size for more in depth meeting notes and client notes.
Silver Mont Blanc rollerball pen
One of the first extravagant purchases I made when I was promoted from junior strategist to senior was a silver Montblanc rollerball pen. I had always respected and paid attention to people who had lovely pens when growing up and wanted it as a status statement piece. People always comment on it and I treat it well but not afraid for it to get scratched so it gets used.
Branded business cards
I love business cards. My friends and family will tell you. I love the tactility of them and the opportunity that they give you to stand out from the crowd through simple design that deviates from the standard ‘white card, black text’ template with a logo. Mine are bright red, have rounded corners and different photos on the reverse to act as talking points, you’d be surprised to know that clients often ask for one of each photo; it gets expensive but I later found out that they pass them out and show them to colleagues back at their offices so potentially an effective marketing technique.
Photo of my father
He passed away nearly nine years ago but is still always an inspiration in both my business and personal lives, he was a successful businessman who grew up on a farm and ended up owning nine chemist shops in London. He rose to become one of the most respected pharmacists in the UK, and was even Winston Churchill’s pharmacist! By thinking about him and seeing his photo most days it reminds me that I can do this and build something great that I love.
iPad (in leather Liverpool red case with pouch)
My amazing fiancé Kirsty bought me this iPad 4 for our first Christmas together, I had resisted buying one for months and could not see how it would fit into my workflow but now I cannot live without it. I manage my business on the go, write blog posts on the go, send invoices, respond to emails, build presentations, write notes and even access all my work files through the DropBox app. Best present ever and crucial in the success and efficiency of by business.
Surely every strategy consultant reading this site has even a mild addiction to Post-it Super Sticky Notes? I have hundreds of packs lying around my office and house, they are stuck on my screens, my desk and always have emergency packs in my bag and coat pockets, you know, just in case.
The wow factor of presenting to clients using a Apple Remote instead of having to tap through slides and the like cannot be underestimated. They always raise a smile and have that look of ‘that’s why we hired him, this is slick’ about them.
Omega Seamaster watch
This was a present from my mum for my 21st birthday, I wear it every day and although I mostly check the time on my phone, I cannot go anywhere without it. Similar to the Mont Blanc pen, it is a statement piece that makes me feel more confident and looks great. It happens to be the James Bond watch of the 90s too, which is nice [hums the tune].
Super premium whisky
I’m a big whisky collector, the whisky in the photo is a Johnnie Walker Whisky Platinum and happens to be the 50th bottle of whisky in my collection that spans the world and price ranges. I enjoy a small measure after a long day and also, in a Mad Men way, have bottles on hand for when I’m with clients who enjoy the amber nectar from Scotland or Ireland.
Another Christmas present from my brilliant fiancé, this has changed my hot beverage consuming habits beyond recognition. From all the different variants to how amazing the retail experience is and also the sociability of discussing coffee habits and preferences with fellow owners. Great brand, great machine, great coffee. (There you go. If you needed a coffee machine review from someone who drinks a lot of coffee, you now have it.)
Universal charger including USB
Expensive at nearly £40 but so worth it. Not only does it plug in to all nations plug sockets (including Korea), it also has two USB ports to charge the gadgets such as iPad and iPhone whilst traveling. Invaluable to my client and holiday ‘kit’ nowadays.
Apple iPhone 5 (with aluminium case)
Whilst I think it is a weaker phone than the 4S and still love the iconic design of the original iPhone, this phone is great, does the job, is super-fast and crucially links and syncs with all my devices from iPad to MacBookPro and apps from DropBox to Evernote and beyond.
Relaxed client shoes
Surely we all have these? Client shoes that you like, are relaxed as the clients are more chilled out than usual but still look very professional. These are leather tipped Converse. Nice. Took a while to break in though!
Formal client shoes
For clients and presentations that require a bit more formality, these are lovingly referred to as my ‘Nashville’ shoes as I bought them in Nashville, Tennessee whilst on a client visit a few years back. They are the most comfortable shoes I own and zip up at the back for easy on, easy off. Yep.
What are your must have tools for every freelance strategist?
Do you use any of the above?