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Inside My Toolkit: Road Warrior Edition

If you looked in mine right now, you’d see bits and pieces of the many roles I play commingling in a stylish exterior (bags are my one true vice).  I’m a behavioral anthropologist – which is really: a researcher, mediator, manager, coach, mentor and mom all rolled into one.  I’m always in conversation with someone.  I fight the constant battle to capture and remember meaningful moments to pull insights together in an unobtrusive, streamlined way – I hate when technology fails or gets in the way of making a real connection.

My toolkit

1.  My iPhone: I use my phone for everything during a conversation.  I don’t like to learn new technology, I already know all the features and functionality on my phone so why not? I’m an all in one kind of gal – make it easy and streamlined and you’ve got me for life. Some of my favorite apps include:

  • Voice Memo to records audio
  • Camera to grab video clips or stills
  • Dropbox lets me sync everything from my phone so my team has access to the files in real time and I don’t have to clog my  phone space
  • Evernote helps me make lists and keep track of valuable nuggets of information that pop in my head – the best part, I can attach audio and video or link to articles and PDFs.
  • WordPress gives me access to our internal blog affectionately named, brain juice.  It’s a “bucket” where everyone on the team can post anything they want: usually it’s funny, insightful user experience-related insights or inside jokes or tales from the road.  It’s part of the glue that keeps us together while we are busy traveling and talking to people. We source a lot of User Insight posts from brain juice.

2.  Recording device: My favorite way to capture audio is the LiveScribe pen (livescribe.com), mainly it combines my desire to write with the ability to quickly access audio from a conversation. The pen also gives me redundancy of the recording in case my phone fails or the audio quality isn’t good.  The best part is it’s a great ice breaker, people always want to know more about my pen and they almost always write down the name of it before I leave.  Sometimes I forget to charge my pen, that’s when I revert to #3.

3.  A notebook and pen: I’m always actively taking notes, I rarely read through them, the act of writing things down helps me remember key details as I’m talking to someone.  Any good conversation involves active listening, I have a terrible memory but once I write something down it gets lodged in my brain – it keeps me engaged and attentive to the person I’m talking with.

4.  Camera: small canon that will do audio and video.  (Nine times out of ten I don’t have it on me or the battery is dead.)

5.  Granola bar, Fruit snacks & water bottle: talking to people all day is a marathon, not a sprint.  You need to have some human moments to regroup and garner strength.  If I don’t have time to eat, granola bar and fruit snacks it is!  Sometimes they are for little ones who are “starving”.  Keeping someone happy with a small treat to get an extra 5 minutes of quiet conversation is priceless.

One thing I’ve learned from constantly being on the go, batteries die when you need them the most; hence, my kit always has several back ups.

How about you, what do you carry around and more importantly, what does it say about you?