Chris O’Byrne – President of JETLAUNCH

Chris O’Byrne is the president of JETLAUNCH, where his team provides self-publishing services for all writers, especially solo entrepreneurs, coaches, and creative giants. These are his good things

Good things to read.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness is my latest favorite book. Read it twice—it might change your life.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of those books that did change my life. (Okay, every book has changed my life in some way. And as long as we’re getting picky, every thought or event has changed my life. But some books have made a huge impact in my life and ZAMM is one of those.) My first time through this book I had trouble finishing it. I was in my 20s and my thinking ability was rudimentary compared to what it would be even 10 years later. The second time I read this book I was in my mid-30s, and I received far more from it. In fact, I read it again just a year or so later and received even more. I don’t know how to explain what was so impactful about this book other than to say it opened up my mind in ways that kept it forever open and changing.

Even if you are not Christian or even religious, The Holy Bible has amazing advice on how to live. If you’re looking for solid business advice or even advice on how to live every day, start with Proverbs. If you want your life changed forever, read the Gospels.

Good things to watch.

What Dreams May Come still makes me cry every time I watch it.

The Matrix blew me away and opened up my mind a bit more.

The Big Lebowski makes me laugh and think at the same time.

Good things to use.

Evernote stores everything for me. My brain is infinitely leaner without all of the information cluttering it that I can now quickly and easily access in Evernote via my laptop or my phone. If you want to get as much out of Evernote as possible, I highly recommend Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly.

I have tried multiple task managers and Trello has proven to be the most useful by far. I love the visual aspect of Kanban and even bought the book, Personal Kanban, to help get even more out of it. I have several boards for various aspects of my life. My main work board has columns (called “lists”) for On Hold, Ideas, Backlog, Ready, Doing, Done, and Archive. Once a week I move the cards in my Done list into Archive. This gives me an feel for how much work I got done the past week and which tasks needed more attention.

I have used my French press mug from Planetary Design for over six years, and I literally use it every single day. I have an older model that holds 16 ounces, and one mug is usually enough for the whole day. It’s incredibly easy to use and makes delicious coffee every time. Unless I use Folgers, which I do frequently because it helps me to appreciate amazing coffee even more. The most amazing coffee I’ve ever had is by Sightglass Coffee.

Connect with Chris on Twitter, @JetlaunchLLC.

Elizabeth S. Craig – Author

Elizabeth S. Craig is the author of the Southern Quilting Mysteries, she co-manages Writers Knowledge Base, and and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. This is the book that made me want to write mysteries, myself. A remote island, a dead host, and suspects that, one by one, become victims. Nice plot twist, too.

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I admire Welty’s diction, rapid characterization, and well-paced plots. The fact that this is a short story collection meant that I could enjoy and learn from these elements in short periods of time or at the end of a long day.

Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden. A thoughtful analysis of ten poems. Not only did this book introduce me to poetry I was unfamiliar with, it reminded me how much I enjoy reading poetry. I started splurging regularly on poetry collections after that–including Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Billy Collins.

Good things to watch.

Sherlock Holmes on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery/BBC. Great chemistry between actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman along with excellent writing from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss provide viewers with a fun, zippy, modern interpretation of the classic by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

House of Cards, Netflix. I don’t watch much television, but this series fascinated me. As a writer, it’s particularly interesting how this show was produced. Netflix analyzed viewer data that included everything from how many viewers watched this type of political drama, to viewer recommendations and tags, to the popularity of the lead actor and the director. Then they filmed the entire season, releasing it at one time to allow for binge viewing. This mirrors what many self-published (and other) writers are trying to do: use data from retailers like Amazon (we can view readers’ underlined passages and comments on ebooks) to see what works. And many are choosing to release already-written trilogies or longer series in rapid succession to build reader interest. Binge reading. It’s an interesting experiment and a well-written show.

Henning Mankell’s Wallander. Yes, it’s in Swedish, but there are English subtitles. Gritty and fascinating portrayal of crime investigation in Sweden…and displays a dark side to the lovely setting. The interesting, flawed protagonist adds to the stories.

Good things to use.

Free online timers. Since writers are easily distracted by shiny objects, timers can help us retain focus. We can set timers to alert us when we need to get off social media or timers to make ourselves write for a specific amount of time. I Google “set timer for 20 minutes” and Google counts down the time. Or I’ll use the free online stopwatch timer.

Pomodoro technique. If you’re a restless worker/writer or easily distracted, this is a handy way to retain focus. There are 5 steps:

  1. Pick a task you need to accomplish.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working
  3. When the timer rings, take a 5 minute break
  4. Repeat steps 1-3
  5. Every four cycles, take a 25 minute break.

Evernote. This free app will sync with other devices and functions as an online file cabinet for ideas, pictures and text. You can also email files directly to the app. It helps keep me organized with everything from writing (story ideas, blog post topics, helpful writing craft tips) to recipes. You can tag entries and search for keywords. It’s been incredibly helpful to me.

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, @ElizabethSCraig

Carson Samson – Designer

Carson Samson began working as a graphic designer in 1999. In 2005, he launched Samson Design Studios. Carson has partnered with a talented group of professionals and innovative minds to provide full-tilt creative services, catered specifically to non-profits, charities and NGOs. He writes on the topics of Design, Branding, Evernote and Small Business at Design+Business.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Newspaper. Not only is it easier to read news online, it’s far more up to date. That’s why I cancelled my newspaper subscription. But the weekend edition of your favourite newspaper provides a refreshing break from the screen-viewing. As a bonus, weekend editions are usually loaded with Arts/Culture and opinion pieces. I’m a Canadian, who prefers a national perspective, so I read The Globe and Mail. But I will often pick up my local paper as well. I encourage you to sit back with your morning coffee and get a little ink on your hands. There are some real gems hidden within the pages of your favourite paper.

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Jocelyn K. Glei and Behance founder, Scott Belsky have culled the brightest minds and most successful entrepreneurs to present a series of essays on – you guessed it – getting the most out of your workday. Steven Pressfield, Cal Newport and Seth Godin are but three of the contributors. This book is part of a series developed by 99u.com, who strive to deliver “the missing curriculum you didn’t get in school”. It’s an easy read, packed with useful tips. If you adopt but a few of them, it’ll change the way your value your time and deal with distractions.

Song of Ice and Fire (Book series) by George R.R. Martin. Whether you are a fantasy fan or not, Martin’s epic series is a literary masterpiece. There are currently five published books out of – what is expected to be – seven in all. Of course, it’s gained a great deal of popularity over the past few years since HBO picked up the series.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad. I’m certainly not the first person to promote AMC’s flagship program on 27GoodThings, so I won’t go on and on. If you have Netflix, and you haven’t yet watched an episode, please do. The first season is a little slow to start (all that character development and so forth), but by the time it comes to a conclusion, you’ll be a Breaking Bad junkie. Which is by and large a lot better than being a Meth junkie.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Best Christmas movie ever. It’s stood the test of time. My wife and I watch it 3-4 times a year. I even watched it from my hotel room in Kalamazoo, MI in July. It was on cable – In July. Huh? You’ll likely find a DVD copy for under $10, and it’s also on Netflix.

Conversations with my 2 Year Old.  Father daughter hijinks reenacted by 2 grown men. You don’t have to be a parent to find the humour in this.

Good things to use.

Evernote. This is the hub of my digital life. Both professionally and personally. I keep everything from project files to Lego instruction books. Despite Evernote’s claims to help users remember everything, It hasn’t improved my memory one bit. But having a near infinite supply of stored notes at my fingertips has saved my ass on more than a few occasions.

Moleskine notebook. Like reading the newspaper, writing stuff down on paper is still a very gratifying act.My notebook of choice is the Evernote edition, which (once captured by a smartphone) syncs nicely with my digital notes. There are a lot of imitators out there, but no other notebook matches the quality of Moleskine.

Coffitivity. Regardless of whether or not you put any stock in study results that link increased productivity to tinkling glasses and humming espresso machines, sometimes your office is just too quiet. The developers of Coffitivity provide a coffee shop vibe direct from your desktop, or mobile phone.

Connect with Carson on Twitter,  @carsonsamson, or on Facebook, at fb.com/SamsonStudios.

Jonas – Storyteller, Creative Director, Tennis aficionado

Jonas pretends to work as a creative director in his daytime and squeezes out words onto pages in his night time. He has published two novels and is half-way into his third one. When he’s not at work or with family, he’s dancing around on a tennis court somewhere, trying to imitate Roger Federer.

Good things to read.

Independence Day by Richard Ford.  This Pulitzer and Pen prize-winning book made me want to become a novelist. A brilliant story without murders. Here the beautiful language and strong realism makes sure you keep turning the page.

On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s hard not to like Stephen King. He sells boatloads of books, yet is still true to his craft. This is his book on writing, which is truly a labour of love and very inspirational.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A book that fits so well in with our chaotic times that I wish I’d written it myself. James’ brain is an exciting place and the honesty and clarity of his writing is both refreshing, thought-provoking and revolutionary.

Good things to watch.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians. (Nah, that was a joke…)

Star Wars.  I’ve loved the Star Wars saga ever since I was a little boy and I’m happy I’ve managed to brainwash my stepson (9) into liking it as much. Not the best dialogue in the universe, but the storytelling is top notch and the visuals give you goose bumps.

Shawshank Redemption.  More Stephen King, I know. But this is his best movie by far and I’m not alone in thinking this (best movie of all time according to IMDB). It’s difficult not to shed a tear at the end of it.

Mad Men.  Having worked with advertising in some form or other for most of my adult life, the TV series Mad Men felt like home. I’m also a nostalgic for a time when you could drink generously in the middle of the work day. Fantastic acting and storytelling.

Good things to use.

Evernote.  For many years I wanted a software that could keep all my notes organised and in one place. Evernote does this wonderfully. Makes me feel creative and calm at the same time.

Dropbox.  Every creator’s worst nightmare is that all his/hers hard work is disintegrated in a hardware malfunction or a wildfire. Dropbox allows me to pour water on my Macbook Air without worrying about data loss (disclaimer: don’t pour water on your computer!).

Kindle.  The perfect travel buddy. Since I used to type newspaper articles on the classic Psion3a, the e-ink screen gives me both nostalgia and less tired eyes. If you love books, but don’t want to carry the weight of them, the Kindle is the way to go.

Follow Jonas’ musings on Twitter: @jonaswrites.

Donna Knutt – CEO of Luxie Labs

Donna Knutt is a coder, designer, mom and CEO of Luxie Labs, these are her good things.

Good things to read.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.   Ahhh procrastination. The enemy of us all! When Mike asked me to write my 3 things I was excited to share. The professional in me said “oh that’s easy, just jot down your 3 things for each category and you’re done…easy peasy.” Two days later, no list. How could something so seemingly simple be so darn difficult to complete. Pressfield calls it Resistance. It’s that destructive force inside us that rises whenever we embark on a difficult, or lengthy task that might do for us or others something that’s actually good. Its aim is to distract us; prevent us from doing our work. Yes even with years of business and writing experience, I let fear beat me until I remembered what Pressfield said. “Resistance hates it when we turn pro.” If you’ve ever struggled with completing any creative endeavor, (starting a biz, writing a book, running a marathon, etc) read The War of Art. It’ll help you overcome those obstacles we all bump into, and develop a more disciplined version of yourself. Highly recommend it!

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.  You know those books that you read that make you wonder if the author was secretly spying on you or ninja-ed their way into your head? Well this is one of those books. If you’ve ever felt that there’s gotta be more to life, or that you were meant to do something great but you weren’t sure what or how, then read the AONC. Chris shows you another way to live. In his words, the overall message of the book is this: “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. Here’s how to do it.” It’s a book I recommend to all my friends and clients who are “non-conformist” like myself. And once my son learns how to read, please believe it’ll be on his reading list!

The Bible. I remember reading a story about George Buttrick, a former chaplain at Harvard University a few years ago. His students use to come to his office, plop down on his chair and say, “I don’t believe in God,” and Buttrick would give them this charming response: “Sit down and tell me what kind of God you don’t believe in, I probably don’t believe in that God either.” Most people have a distorted view of who God is, and they reject him because of past experiences, the church, family, movies, etc. But if you’re anything like me, you probably hate when people assume things about you that aren’t true. And I believe if we take the time to really read the bible for ourselves, we’ll develop a different view and better understanding of not only God but ourselves. The most challenging part though is sometimes “where do I start?” I say start anywhere. If you have to choose, I like Romans. It’s short, easy to read, and covers basically everything we need to understand and do while we’re chillin here on earth 🙂

Good things to watch.

The Good Life Project TV.  The Good Life Project TV is a weekly web show that highlights authors, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and innovators that are building meaningful things and bringing people together. Very inspiring!

Simon Sinek – Start With Why.   In this video, Sinek explains why some people or organizations are more innovative and influential, and how they are able to build and sustain large communities around their brand.

The sunset on the beach. It’s a totally magical and peaceful experience; To just sit and marvel at all that God has created.

Good things to use.

Your gut.  I can’t tell you how many times I went through something and had a gut feeling, but totally ignored it, only to find myself disappointed or stressed because I didn’t listen to myself. It’s happened too many times for me not to bring this one up. Normally we get to a point where we have to make a decision about something. It could be a job offer, a relationship, school, basically any life changing decision that will totally alter our mere existence! We dance around the options, knowing full well what we should do deep down inside. So the next time you come across a hard decision, trust your gut. It’s our internal guide or compass of sorts that directs us to exactly where we need to be.

Evernote.  This app is a lifesaver. I can jot down ideas, attach images, recordings, etc. and it syncs across all my devices. It’s a nice neat place to get all my ideas out of my head and into an organized space online (I’m actually writing this in Evernote right now).

Your muscles.  I recently did the Spartan Race in Citi Field. It was a total experience! I had never done any kind of race like it in my life, but after seeing a video about it I knew I had to do it! Everything about it was intimidating (3-4 miles of obstacles: rope climbing, crawling, lifting, you name it) but I was up for the challenge. It required mental toughness and physical strength so I had to train. Training for it showed me that if I pushed myself, I was capable of doing way more than I gave myself credit for. And the biggest thing I learned was that most obstacles we face are more mental than anything. So no matter your age, get out there and exercise. Push yourself. If it means signing up for something crazy like the Spartan Race, so be it. Just get out there.

Connect with Donna on Twitter, @DonnaKnutt.

Greg Hickman – Mobile Mixed

Greg Hickman runs Mobile Mixed, a blog and podcast where he shares insights and best practices for businesses that want to be more mobile, these are his good things. 

Good things to read.

The Ultimate Sales Machine.  A must read for practically anyone in business

Let Go by Pat Flynn.  A must read for anyone looking to dive into starting their own business and may be afraid.

If you’re a small business, The Mobile Mixed blog!

Good things to watch.

New Girl. I’m sort of addicted to this show…it’s totally hysterical.

Arrested Development.  I tried to fight it but I just started watching Season 1 and i’m hooked.

Live music in a small venue. Nothing beats a good show when you’re up close and personal.

Good things to use.

Followup.cc. One of the best tools I can think of. One of the best email reminder tools that makes it so easy to follow up with people.

Evernote. One of the best note taking apps there is. I store everything in evernote and can access it from my phone or iPad. Super helpful!

Foam Roller. I use my foam roller daily to remove stiffness and knots in my muscles that keep me tighter than I want to be.

To connect with Greg about all things mobile, find him on Twitter @gjhickman.

Melanie Pinola – Writer and Life Hacker

Melanie Pinola writes about technology, productivity, and “life hacks” (most notably for Lifehacker, ITworld, and About.com Mobile Office Technology). Her book LinkedIn in 30 Minutes is due out in May 2013.

Good things to read.

 Poetry. Any kind will do. Poems are really music without sound. Whether you like the bold crassness of Charles Bukowski, the exquisite darkness of Mark Strand, or the brilliant pondering of Adrienne Rich, reading a poem is like getting a concentrated dose of inspiration. Ironically, though, while poems are usually short enough to read at any moment, you can only read so many without getting too intoxicated and overwhelmed. (Is it a copout to choose a whole genre? Very well then, see the complete poems of E. E. Cummings, where you’ll find the most beautiful love poems. Really.)

Smart bloggers. We’re lucky to have so many good writers putting up/sharing free content all the time. Off the top of my head, I think you should check out the insanely honest and funny James Altucher, enlightening Derek Sivers, and flat-out productive person Jeff Atwood (who wrote one of the best posts about parenthood ever). Master curators Maria Popova on Brain Pickings, Jason Kottke on Kottke.org, and Dave Pell on Next Draft should also be in your feeds.

And, to be practical: Real Simple, the magazine and website, which covers everything from home organization to wardrobe shortcuts to unusual uses for old things. Like Lifehacker, it’s all about making life simpler and easier (although Real Simple has less of a tech bent). 

Good things to watch.

America’s Test Kitchen. On YouTube and PBS. It’s the science of good cooking: tested recipes, equipment, and techniques. Because, really, we all should be making and eating great food.

Mythbusters. They put all the most interesting myths to the test. The latest episode: MacGyver Myths. Could he really have flown a plane made of bamboo? Created a hole in a wall with pure sodium? Epic.

Game of Thrones. I have no productivity-related reason to recommend this, other than it just rocks. It’s reason enough to subscribe to HBO. One word of advice, though: Don’t read the books before the related season. You’ll be in purgatory waiting for the show to catch up and wondering why the characters on screen are still alive. (It’s pure torture.) 

Good things to use.

Automation tools. Automate as much as you can. App-connecting service IFTTT is truly awesome: You can send starred Gmail messages to Evernote, automatically download Facebook photos to Dropbox, get text message notifications of important news items, and so much more. Similarly, save time and hassle by using Amazon Subscribe & Save for your regular bulk items, an online grocery to get your food delivered with a weekly list, and maybe even a complete meal delivery service like Blue Apron. Cut out all the little things that consume so much time (like weekly meal planning and shopping) and you have time for the more important ones.

A good pair of sneakers. I try to walk as much as I can. Part of this is just for exercise. Part of it is to support my local businesses when I go shopping. And the other part is to get some much needed sunlight as often as I can. It makes for better sleep, better moods, and better ideas.

Your relationships. Not that you should “use” them, of course, but time and again studies have shown that happiness is most closely tied to the quality of your relationships (the latest study was a 75-year-old one on Harvard students). I’m an introvert. I don’t care to be around too many people too often. But I know people matter the most, and those extra steps showing gratitude, being helpful, and otherwise participating in our loved ones’ lives is the reason why we’re all here anyway.

Connect with Melanie on Twitter @melaniepinola

Jolie Guillebeau – painter, storyteller

Jolie Guillebeau is a painter who tells stories or a story teller through painting and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This is my favorite book of 2013. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, and immediately turned back to page one and started all over. So good.

Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This is the first book I recommend to all of my art students. It’s a quick read that I still go back to when I’m needing a little inspiration.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A classic. I’ve read it at least 20 times. And I love it every time.

Good things to watch.

Wreck it Ralph. I loved this movie, mostly because of the references to old video games. Who doesn’t love Qbert?

Exit Through the Gift Shop. This documentary about art and commercialism had me thinking for weeks. Plus, I love Banksy’s work.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Favorite movie as well as book. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. So much win.

Good things to use.

Evernote. I keep my knitting patterns, my notes and journals, my recipes (especially with the new Food app), my to-do lists– everything goes in Evernote. Then I can find them from anywhere.

Whitelines LINK. This paper works perfectly with Evernote and Dropbox. I can sketch or draw then immediately record it digitally– it’s fantastic.

Steven Smith Teas. I’m lucky that his tea is local and easy to find. It’s lovely. My current favorite is Red Nectar, but I also love his chai blend.

Jolie is on Twitter, sharing paintings and more.

Bonnie Zink – Knowledge, Mobilization, Professional, and Social Media Strategist

These are Bonnie Zink‘s good things.

Good things to read.

It is my belief that reading books is magical and, combined with a little imagination, has the power to transport us to other worlds. We can travel through time, empathize with historical figures through the eyes of modern day perspectives, and enjoy a whimsical escape from our own reality into the reality of someone else. My top picks for good things to read are:

Philippa Gregory – the Cousin’s War series is my favourite – shows gives voice to the women of history. Watch the rise and fall of King Richard III through the eyes of the women around him.

Diana Gabaldon transports us to the middle ages where perseverance is rewarded and love prevails.

The Awakened Series by Jason Tesar blends the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and military/political suspense to keep entertained right to very last turn of the page.

Good things to watch.

Whether you catch up the news of the day or your latest happenings in reality TV, it is nice to switch from the printed word to watch someone else’s imagination play out on the screen in front of you.

Shakespearean drama is played out all around us every day. Enjoy a little romance and comedy mixed with the tragedy of star crossed lovers in Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare ReTOLD is a BBCOne series that brings the Bard’s words to life in modern day surroundings. Watch as Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, “MacBeth,” is relocated to the heated world of a top restaurant kitchen.

Of course, no great movie night would be complete without watching Elizabeth Taylor portray the shrewish of wife of Petruchio, a fortune-hunting scoundrel, in Taming of the Shrew.

Good things to use.

I was not born a digital native, but have become situated nicely in the digital world. I make my living by telling the stories of my clients on blogs, through social media, and in print. Three great things that allow me to do what I do are:

Evernote  “remembers everything!” This note taking application is truly friendly across all platforms and devices. It allows me to access what I need to know anytime, anywhere, and from any device. Thanks to Evernote, I am now completely paperless and enjoy the freedom of not being locked down to a heavy filing cabinet or hard drive.

Social media (in general) allows me to converse, connect, and share great content around the world. I meet someone new each and every day while engaging with new ideas and knowledge. Find me on Twitter: @bonniezink

Cloud computing hits my top three favourite tools list. Cloud computing opens up the world to me. I work from many devices and many places. With Google Drive and UbuntuOne cloud services my work and my life follows me. All my data, contacts, projects follow me where ever I happen to be.

Tom Ewer – Leaving Work Behind

Tom Ewer is a blogger at Leaving Work Behind. There he writes about creating income from a variety of streams and having more freedom to do the things he chooses. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a timeless classic on how to treat people in such a way that they will admire and respect you. If only I could master its teachings!

The Yahoo! Style Guide. A must for anyone who writes content for the web in any form.

Getting Things Done.  A productivity guide that changed my way of working and dramatically improved my efficiency. Definitely something you should cherry pick from and adjust to your own tastes.

Good things to watch.

Cricket, the king of sports and great for baffling Americans.

Office Space.  Cult classic — I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen this.

The Big Bang Theory. I use this to switch off 😉

Good things to use.

2Do runs my life.

Evernote contains my life.

Anki enables me to learn at a drastically increased rate.