Four Reasons Why Slack Is Better Than Email (and worth the learning curve)

Around the office, the fastest way for me to get my fellow HR colleagues to roll their eyes is to mention Slack, the email-killing ultra messaging app that actually is as good as promised… or better.

Email, which is in it’s 44’th year is such a regular thing anymore, that many of us cannot imagine work without it. We all dread it, but we all love it as well, relying on its merciless threads to approximate communication as well as document conversations with the objective of obtaining that all-important CYA factor in the workplace.

Many things have come along trying to dethrone email as the preeminent non-verbal communication method in the workplace. IM, Yammer, Skype, and a thousand variations on the theme have all attempted to replace emails without ever really doing it. Gmail, with it’s threaded look and unlimited storage, and Outlook/Exchange with its calendaring, free/busy and other features are likely the most innovative and sticky updates to email since the first messages were sent nearly half-a-century ago. Google Wave was the best chance I had ever seen at replacing email… until Slack.

Here’s Why Slack Is Better Than Email and Why It’s Worth Learning

  1. Its everywhere already. Look, your tech guys are either using Slack today or else they wish they could (but your antiquated IT department restrictions are forcing them to stay on email).
  2. It works everywhere you’re already working. And more. Install it on your mobile devices, tablets and computers for a seamless experience everywhere you are.
  3. Communicate with people across your organization (or outside of it) directly, to groups, to private channels, or even to self-organized channels.
  4. It already works with all the tools/systems you already work with. Finally get away from the thousand-email-duplication tyrany along with the endless duplication of emails and attachments. Attachments are searchable. Attachments get sent ONCE. Read that again–ONCE! (Your email storage system administrator should be jumping up and down at the massive amount of email storage completely wasted by duplicate attachments right now. This business-case alone should save companies much more than a company-wide move to Slack could ever cost.)

It’s Everywhere Already

Look around in your org. Someone is using Slack already or wishing they did. Truth is that it is a bit technical. It was designed for engineers, but it’s not a green screen where you need to known XHMTL to do anything productive. You can do a heck-of-a-lot of coding with Slack (and your teams already are) but everyone else can use it to.

It Works Everywhere You Are

Its on Mobile (push alerts, baby). It’s on your desktop. Need to catch a message and you’re not at one of your devices? It’s on the web. Boom. Now you’re a productivity rockstar because you can stay in touch with anyone, anytime, anywhere, seamlessly. No funky session control problems (Lync) either, leaving you out of your own conversations when you stop using one device and pick up another.

It Helps You Communicate, Like, Effectively

Email lists, self-made distribution lists, hallway chatter, out-of-office messages, skype status updates or whatever else we use to try and explain to people the nuances of our workdays can all be done in one place. Yes, that’s right. One place. Let your teams communicate to each other, with each other, around each other or any other way they want by giving them the tools to “Let a thousand flowers bloom”.

Everything your company is doing (and spending) today to approximate communication is being done seamlessly in slack by companies cooler than you, hipper than you, and significantly les burdened by corporate blah blah than you.

Do you use Dropbox for that? Slack integrates nicely. Want to send attachments. Drag and drop. Oh, creative uses a different tool? It’s there already. Need to video chat with that person? Google Hangouts integrates out of the box. So does whatever that other thing you’re using. Your IT department can get JIRA alerts sent/received managed through Slack. Your Dev teams can get alerts about builds breaking through Slack. IFTTT and slack can automate a billion things like calendar alerts for team meetings to letting everyone know when you’ve left the building for the day (so they can watch cat videos without fear of retribution from you).

Finally, one of the unsung heroes of Slack communication is that you can bring someone else (new hire, new collaborator) into a conversation in Slack and you can share that whole group’s history with them (if you choose). The subtle magic here is that the ever-elusive institutional knowledge of how engineering built their contest winning 2-liter bottle rocket three years ago never needs to be lost to the pages of history (and archived email PST file hell) again.

  • Slack chats are searchable
  • The content of FILES shared in slack are searchable too!

This means your can search for an find documents, conversations, meeting agendas, action-items, code snippets, or anything else that is shared through slack anytime in the future without a computer forensics degree or access to everyone’s email accounts.

If you don’t realize how valuable that is, maybe you should stop trying to Internet all together and go back to cranking out memos on your typewriter.


If email systems had a hip, cool grandchild born in the Internet age that was designed for the way people (endlessly) live and work in the modern era, I am pretty sure it would look a lot like Slack.

Slack is the new “use google apps for business instead of succumbing to Redmond’s tyranny of Exchange Server”

As Steve Dotto says in this great YouTube intro to Slack, “People say ‘Oh, it’s just another thing’, when really its another thing that eliminates a lot of just another things

And that’s a pretty big thing.

(And I just thought of a follow on to this post called “Four Reasons Why Someone At Your Company Thinks Slack is Lame”)

Hiring Managers Be Like:

Managers Be Like


No, You Don’t *Need* a SmartWatch, But You’ll Hate Life Without It

I got an AppleWatch (Happy Father’s Day to Me) and wearing it less than a week, I realized two things loud and clear:

  • I have absolutely no justification available for why I, or anyone, needs this thing. 
  • I will hate ever having to go without this e.v.e.r. again. 

The simplicity of getting notifications on your wrist, the synchronization with my phone and, thanks to Apple’s handoff and continuity features, the out-of-the-box way it just works seamlessly with my iPhone, iPad and Mac are pretty much like getting to know an old friend whose gone away and come back cooler and more sophisticated than ever before. 

I have only one use-case for the SmartWatch that makes me feel 10% justified in the brutal truth that I’m the first-world-problem of the rest of all first-world problems:

  • I don’t miss notifications anymore. 
  • And I can instantly act/react to texts that are important or, more likely, unimportant. 

Yeah, that whole “remove phone from pocket. Check message. Ignore because all it says is, ‘OK'” thing? Now, it’s a thing of the past.  

Now you feel like a productivity boss

Now you glance at your wrist in the store or hallway at work, send a quick “thanks” or emoji back to your counterpart and move on, a spring in your step because that 8/10ths of a second you spared make you feel happy. Like, I’m the 💣💩 happy. 

Like this kind of happy: 


Things I’m enjoying about the watch:

  • Love passbook integration for movie tickets and I’m excited to use it for traveling and ApplePay. 
  • Love the movement indicators especially the stand-up reminder. 
  • Love the “tactic” feedback Apple made because I think a vibrating device on my wrist would be very annoying. 
  • Love the turn-by-turn nav, especially the “turn-signal” sound and tap. It’s the smallest thing, but keeps my eyes on the road, not my phone’s gps. 
  • “Hey Siri” right on my wrist makes me feel like Tony Stark and Jarvis and the voice to text recognition seems even better than my phone’s incredible capability here. (Related, my youngest asked, “Siri is in there too?” While pointing to the watch. I found myself replying, “Yep, she’s everywhere.” I think Siri is a superhero.)
  • Calendar and reminder alerts are seamless and valuable. 
  • Making phone calls from my wrist feels like I’m Dick Tracy but from the future and much less halftone. 

Summary? Yeah, I need this thing about as much as you need that phone in your hand, but it really is the most-intimate digital device you’ll own, and a lot of fun, besides. 



Why I’m Doing “The Murph” Crossfit Workout on Monday (Memorial Day)

Monday, this Memorial Day, I’ll be doing The Murph at Provo Crossfit


Look, I’m not a military guy. I haven’t ever served my country like those brave men and women, and I likely won’t ever have to. Though I was 17 when the Iraq/Kuait war broke out and I wondered if i would get enlisted since, at the time, people were saying the draft was going to be re-instated.  That pretty much freaked me out.  I would like to think that if i was called up, I would serve honroabnly and serve well. 

But here’s the thing. I am a pretty good example of an American guy. Soft in the middle living in a safe neighborhood enjoying the fruits of a booming economy with a cushy desk job that I am really good at, but truthfully isn’t winning me a Medal of Honor anytime soon. There’s no heroism going on in my line of work. 

Back in August 2005, posted a workout they named “Murph” after a guy I will never know, but I respect for his ultimate sacrifice for his brothers-in-arms when they were pinned down under enemy fire in Afghanistan and he radioed for help, an act which exposed him to the enemy’s gunfire.  

His heroism was made famous in the movie “Lone Survivor”. 


For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

Last year when doing this, my good friend Travis Whatcott said something like, “Imagine. This was like his Thursday workout.” It just blows me away to think about the strength and tenacity he had to be able to do something like this on a regular basis.

Later that day, barbequeing with family, I remember thinking that this intense, even terrible workout (I was sore for a week easy) helped me see just a little bit and perhaps taste in the smallest way the sacrafice given to me for my country by this man who died for me though I will never meet him. 

I hope to God I am never in a situation with bullets flying around mt head, shooting at my family or friends or trying to attack the freedoms I love. I’d like to think i woujld put my life on the line for any of these things, though I guess I may never know.

Monday, I choose to respect and admire the lives of our men/women who keep Freedom free in this small–very small–way.

What will you do Monday to respect and admire those who have loved and served America, perhaps with their final breath? 

If you’re looking for something to do a little more edgy than burning brats on the barby, I suggest finding a Crossfit box near you and trying out The Murph.

Good luck

Run MS-DOS on your Windows Phone

There’s a nerdy-cool app you can get from Microsoft to run MS-DOS on your Windows Phone. They did this for April Fools.

MS-DOS on your windows phone?
  • I am 10% interested in actually seeing this for real.
  • Which, sadly, is a higher number than the % of people in the world who actually own a Windows Phone.
  • Which means I will never see this in real life. Ever.

Gmail Filters: Filter Emails that I am BCC’d on

This morning, I needed to generate a Gmail search filter to catch emails that I am regularly BCC’d on.  I receive a lot of email from this person and I did not want the filter to catch messages that are sent to me or where I am copied.

Thanks to Google and Dave Naffziger’s blog post on this more than six years ago, I easily had my filter running well in moments, not minutes, and I was off to the rest of my day.

From Dave:

To truly filter messages that are only received via bcc but that don’t have a special email address that they go to, you’ll need to do it this way:

deliveredto:[email protected] AND -to:[email protected] AND -cc:[email protected]


This is a reason I blog, by the way, to keep things like this alive out there for others to find as well as a backup brain for myself the next time I need to know how to do this!


3 Things You Need When Negotiating A Job Offer (and 1 Thing You Don’t)

Tough Negotiator

I was in on a discussion about offer-negotiation the other day at work, and some things came to mind I thought about sharing.

First of all, setting the scene, negotiations is highly stressful. Job changes by themselves are stressful enough, but the fear of rejection or of negative opinions being formed by your soon-to-be boss can be overwhelming.

So, here’s three things you need to have ready in order to negotiate well in your job offer process.

  1. A Cool Head.
    Taking a new job is like marriage, not dating. Things get really serious really fast. Gone are the conversations about the food in the cafe and the new, modern work environment or flexible time off package.  Now it’s time to talk some long-term turkey, and you’re best not to flirt with this unless you have your head screwed on tight. Cooler heads prevail as the stakes get higher in any situation.Combat this by remembering why you started looking for a job anyway? Or, better stated, what are your key drivers for why you would or wouldn’t take a job?
    Interestingly, many people don’t take the time to list why they want a new job. They just go with their gut on it which, like flirting, isn’t the best way to keep things straight when its time to make real decisions.List out your reasons why you would/wouldn’t take a job andprioritize them. You should have some “Must-Haves”, “Important”, and “Plusses” as well as some “manageables”, “Prefer Nots” and some “Deal-Breakers” in the mix.Having these items handy in the negotiation phase will help you.  For example, if flexible schedules is more important to you than base-salary, you can use that as a negotiation point (aka “leverage”).  If so-called long-term compensation (most-often, this is stock but could be deferred cash compensation) is more important to you than a cash bonus every year, perhaps you can get a bigger stock grant by leaving your bonus money on the table?You may or may not get all your wishlist items in your new job (hint: you probably won’t), but it’s good to be exactly clear on why you want the new gig and what your deal-breakers are otherwise you might find yourself in that new company’s modern-slash-slightly-retro cafe eating your grass-fed beef burger, scratching at your neck and hating yourself for being duped into working in a place with Turtleneck-Tuesdays… again!
  2. A Realization that You Are (Pretty) Safe*
    Negotiating pros will tell you that youneedto be willing to “Walk Away” from an offer before you can fully negotiate with gusto.  While I agree with this–andyoushould be willing to walk away if it goes sour–there is one key thing for you to keep in mind:The company already offered you a job at a certain level.  They’re not really going to rescind the offer just because you asked for more here or there. The offer that they have given you stands. All you’re doing is trying to bend the finer points of the offer in your favor, if you can.Anyone who has been on the other end of a job-offer process at a company will tell you that there is usually a lengthy process to go through to get the job offer to the point they will talk to you about it.Think of all the things they’ve done on your behalf already:

    • Companies rarely give their very best offer right out of the gate. A little negotiation is often expected of you.  Just don’t be a jerk or crazy about it.*
    • They have probably interviewed 5-10+ other people and you’ve survived all that.
    • They have negotiated internally and secured budget to hire you instead of any of the other candidates or any other alternative.
    • They are trying desperately to keep their heads above water with their day job and are dying to know if you will help them fill the gaps.
  3. Know Your Target and Minimum Salary Needs
    This sounds funny, but so many times I ask people what they want to earn, and it’s as if this is the first time they have thought of it.You should know your target earnings and your minimum earnings cold. And be able to say it as simply as repeating your first name.Your new company will likely try to get the offer to fall in the range that you tell them.  So, be ready for the offer to fall in the mark there somewhere.  If you don’t give them a range, then the sky is the limit on what they might offer you (and, they usually won’t err on the side of “too much money”).

    What should your target be? Well, if the job is like your current job, then perhaps a 5% raise would be nice over your current pay.  If it’s a level up or will be significantly challenging, try 10%.

And the one thing you should stop doing?

  1. Stop Thinking “the Pie is Fixed”
    Margaret Neale, a professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford knows how to negotiate.  She says this is one of several pitfalls to avoid in negotiations.It means that you should stop thinking all of the parts of compensation (monetary and otherwise) on the table are the only pieces available to negotiate with.  It means that, if you know what you really want (see the number-one above), you can ask for those things with confidence even if they are not explicitly outlined in the offer.  Do this with tact and you may find them added to the pile, or better, realize that they’re already part of the offer–just implied (and they forgot to tell you).

Summary: All negotiations are really a dance of one kind or another.  You need to know yourself and know your audience and then use both those “excellent people skills” and “verbal and written communication skills” I keep reading about on your resume to go out and make it happen!

Good luck!

By the way, it’s known by now that women don’t ask for more in their negotiations. However, if they are told that the offer is negotiable, a study from the University of Chicago shows that women negotiate well when they realize it’s allowed.  And here’s the rub — it’s always allowed.  If they tell you “no, this is our final offer”, then you should proceed with caution, but otherwise, ask away!

* Note that I have rescinded offers after they have been presented because of the negotiations going completely awry.  Normally, these situations had something akin to creepy-stalkerish behavior, however, not negotiations between rational adults.

App: KindleBox moves eBooks from your Dropbox to Kindle

Drop an ebook file in your Dropbox and have it move effortlessly to your Kindle? Yus.


You’ll need to authorize the app in your Dropbox and Amazon accounts to get it working. Transferring files to and from the Kindle was already pretty easy, but if you use Dropbox, this is definitely a handy addition. #tnw


Wishlist Wednesday: Could Be Meeting Scheduler Nirvana!?

I bumped into a post on SourceCon about, a scheduler app that is mobile first (yaaay) and seems to do everything I want a scheduler to do. See them online

OH MY GOSH there is such a need for someone to just KILL this space… i don’t know why it’s not been done.

Three Years ago, it was finally confirmed that (shuttered by BlackBerry) was finally gone. I’ve been looking for a replacement in vain.

This one looked oh so much like it might be the one…

Until I realized when downloading that they, like every other scheduler, is only syncing with Google Calendar right now. WHYYYY? :(

My Wishlist for the Perfect Scheduling App:

  • Mobile First – on an APP.
  • EXCHANGE sync!
  • Easy to SEND calendar requests (“Hey, let’s meet! Pick a time that works for you here: http://linky.loo)
  • Easy to coordinate calendars with people who are NOT on the service. Just send email or text to book a meeting. Don’t make this hard!
  • Easy to move/change events (when the Boss changes staff meeting again, creating a conflict) without having to do anything hard/awkward.
  • Pro: Let me book concurrent meetings with multiple people (aka: Job interviews in succession)

And, quick question, why can’t my phone just sync my phone-based calendars with your app?? They’re all on my phone! That’s what does with their calendar... Sunrise does the same thing.  Why not you??

Do it!

Ready to use. Ready to tell everyone about this app. Ready to invest if I could!


P.S. is another one I heard about… is it any good?