I’m a researcher and evangelist
That’s what I do. I truly LOVE helping other people research and buy products. So yes, I am the guy that everyone comes to when it comes time to buy a new computer, recommend a fantastic restaurant, or find the best places to see on vacation.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links within my blogs contain affiliate codes, which earn me a small commission if you end up buying that product.
Everything listed is what I honestly, genuinely use, and the affiliate links don’t cost you anything extra, but I get credit from the site that sells them. Everyone wins.
STUFF I LOVE
Here is a list of my MVPs (most valuable products).
Gadgets and Tech
For 16 years, I was a PC/Windows guy, embracing both the software and hardware side of things (often ripping apart the insides for a better look). But in 2007 I switched to a Macbook Pro laptop and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. In 2011 it was time for an upgrade, and my home-based workstation is now a 21.5″ iMac with a 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of ram, and a 1TB hard drive. Want all that simplified? Read my post:
What can I say? Some people spend their extra income on clothes or shoes or golf of Vegas. I like technology. Now that I had a killer desktop for my home base, I wanted a lightweight laptop for travel, working remotely, and basically anywhere I needed it around town… co-working spaces, lunch meetings in a cafe, or speaking presentations. I see it as an investment. So as soon as I started my own business, I got the 11″ Macbook Air. It. Is. Glorious.
iPhone 6, OtterBox Symmetry Case, VModa Headphones
After sticking with an iPhone 3G for 3+ years, an iPhone 4S starting in 2011, I upgraded to the iPhone 6 in 2014 and adore it. It’s more slippery than an eel, so grab a case. I highly recommend the Otterbox Symmetry.
As a Manhattan resident, I commute via the subway, walk everywhere, always multitask when on the phone, love listening to podcasts, and run or work out 3-5 times a week. Headphones are VERY important to me. I did an exhausted search for the best earbud headphones for the iPhone, and settled on the V-MODA Bass Freq with Microphone.
I’m such a nerd, I once did an article called:
6th Gen iPod Nano with Yurbuds Headphones
However, I was having problems finding a great set of headphones for running because the standard Apple earbuds kept falling out and not much luck with others. On the way out of a “running expo” in the city, there was a booth hawking Yurbuds Ironman Series Red/Black In-ear Sport Headphones that would not fall out of your ears. It caught my attention because the scene was hilarious… the vendor, the customers, and people on video were all jumping up and down and spinning their head like Metallica in an attempt to get the buds to fall out.
Although I was hugely skeptical, and balked a bit at the $50 price, running and working out is such an important part of my life, that it would be worth it if these fixed my problem. In short, they delivered. I have had these since the summer of 2010 and they have never fallen out of my ears, and gives a pretty good sound for music and podcasts, without completely blocking out all other sound (important when dodging taxis in the city). Highly recommended.
46” Samsung LNT4665 Flatscreen TV
Let the record show that I live in a 400 square foot studio in Manhattan. So when it came time to choose an LCD TV, I could be forgiven for choosing a smaller 42” model, or even the 40” Samsung. But I believe in the saying “know thyself,” and asked myself the following questions: Am I a tech geek? Do I love watching sports in Hi Def? Do I love watching movies? Will I regret it if I get a smaller model? Yes, Yes, and more Yes. It’s now more than 4 years old, and still glorious.
Cambridge Soundworks Surround Sound Speakers
I am listing my speakers here to show that I don’t always chase after the latest and greatest tech gadget. I’m also a firm believer in “you get what you pay for” and “quality over quantity.” This purchase was also symbolic for me. The year was around 1995, and after a difficult 2-month apartment search that included living in a friend’s spare bedroom for a few weeks, I “rewarded” myself with this 6-speaker surround sound system that I had been eyeing for more than a year.
They had 4 levels, and the pricing was approximately: good ($499), better ($799), best ($1199), and top of the line ($1499). Going with my gut feeling and knowing that a) there was a significant jump in quality from better to best b) that there was less of a jump going to top of the line, I settled on the $1199 model. It was a huge decision for me since I had just started to pass the “living paycheck to paycheck” level, but I hoped it would be a longterm investment. Five moves and 15+ years later, they still sound great.
The full story of all the research I did to decide on that model, debating Canon vs Nikon, point and shoots, and additional lenses went a little long and can be found here:
Quite simply, running is one of the most important activities in my life. It keeps me looking 5-10 years younger, reduces stress, and is an amazing outlet for creativity. I never go out on a run with a problem that is not solvable by the time I return.
I prefer Nike Dri-Fit shirts, Asics shorts (finding shorts with a centered zipper pouch and small pockets proved so elusive that I contemplated creating my own line), Orange Burst GU with caffeine, pre-run Fig Newmans, post-run smoothies, and have bought a new pair of Asics Gel Cumulus sneakers each year for the past 4 years.
I am addicted to Nike+ and have tracked every single solitary run since August 2006 (including the NYC Marathon in 2007). Due to the magic of their database, I can tell you that as of September 2011, I have run 1,650 miles at an average pace of 8:51, burning 175,000 calories along the way. That ensures there’s always room for dessert.
In January 2010, I did a podcast titled “The Running Man: Everything Jim knows about running.”
Biking is one of my single greatest pleasures in life.
The short story? I own three Specialized bikes and they rock.
The full story of all the research I did to decide on that brand, as well as all the other gear involved (Camelbaks, shoes, helmets, sunglasses, etc) can be found here: Jim’s bike recommendations
I love playing hockey. There’s something pure about skating on an open pond in the dead of winter. There’s something exhilarating about winning a rec league championship.
Here is a short story about my earliest hockey memory with my Dad.
The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss
In a nutshell, this is the #1 book that I recommend to people looking to change their career or lifestyle. As with any self-improvement/business book, many people are skeptical, asking “Do the strategies in the 4-Hour Workweek really work?”
Well, it’s a #1 bestseller on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and has more than two thousand 4 1/2 star reviews, so obviously people are reading it. All I can say is from my experience, for the right type of person, yes, at minimum it is worth checking out.
Check out my full review of the 4-Hour Workweek, which actually shows what I thought of it when I first read it in 2009, and an update three years later that shows what happened when implementing his strategies.
Strengths Finder 2.0, Tom Rath
A great little book for finding out what you are good at. In this best-selling book, author Tom Rath pulls from 40 years of research to help readers determine their five top talents. The message of the book is short (30 quick pages) and to the point: People spend too long trying to improve their weaknesses, when they should be capitalizing on their strengths.
From there, the book gives you a unique key code in order to go online and take a 30 minute test to determine your five core talents out of the 34 that their extensive research has identified.
Read my full review in my blog post, Are you wasting time learning skills you don’t need?
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
The book was given to me as a Christmas gift from a friend right after I transitioned my career away from technology and he simply said “someone at the bookstore said this is good about marketing stuff.”
Gladwell talks about the three types of people necessary to help virally spread an idea, trend, or social behavior, covering things from the flu to crime in New York City. I knew I wasn’t the salesperson type, but then I started reading about connectors. I said, oh yeah, I know a lot of people and do some of those things, I must be a connector. But then I read about the third type, the mavens. From that point on, every single sentence he wrote was as if he had known me my whole life and was describing me to someone. I am the epitome of a maven. Check it out and find out which one you are.
The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz
It’s enough to give you a migraine. The good news is, he helps you cut through the hype and figure out the BEST option for you, without having buyers remorse.