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When I first agreed to write an article about the top apps for Executive Coaches, I thought it would be a snap. After all, this area is certainly one of our biggest industries — surprisingly, though, it is not readily recognized as such in the APP world. In 2012, the ICF Global Coaching Study revealed that, the profession appears to be growing, with an estimated 47,500 professional coaches generating close to $2 billion dollars in annual revenue/income, with expectations over the next 12 months of experiencing increasing demand (clients and sessions) which will lead to growth in annual revenue and income from coaching. So why are there no apps specific to the industry? The answer remains to be identified.
So after much research, I was shocked to find that the world of “there’s an app for that” has basically ignored the Executive Coaching field. I’m not talking about the big on-line calendaring; I’m talking about everyday apps that would make our lives easier in relationship to accomplishing our goals as HR professionals.
After much disappointment, I thought about tackling this from a different perspective. In lieu of identifying the best apps for executive coaches I looked for and tested the best apps to decrease stress and at the same time allow us to increase our productivity as single practitioners. Along the way, I realized that these apps could be found if I searched for apps that fit a concept I call “FITs (Flexible IT Systems).” If your company’s IT system is designed based on the FITs model. This flexibility will allow employees to retrofit their system to increase their productivity; this verses forcing employees to increase productivity with a system that does not mirror their strengths.
Here are my top eight recommendations for coaching professionals based on the FITs model. Remember that with apps one size does not fit all; if it is not the exact product that will work for you look for others with a similar concept but are different enough for you to feel comfortable using them. For example, one of my favorite apps, which allowed me to put, a timer on my computer is there were ten different apps for that.
Note: All of the following apps are available for Mac and Android systems.
1. LucyPhone [http://www.lucyphone.com]
In a recent Consumer Reports survey about everyday annoyances, with 10 being “annoys you tremendously,” respondents rated the failure to get a human on a customer service line at 8.6, second only to hidden fees (8.9). This is shocking. I would have thought it would have been 12.9!
Not to worry. It is time to join forces since we can’t beat the system. A new company, LucyPhone, is offering a solution: when put on hold, users can hang up and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up. Don’t you love it!
This does require cooperation from agents. They pick up the call and hear a recorded message telling them to press 1 to be connected with the waiting customer, whose phone then rings. Call center employees are, oddly enough, accustomed to dealing only with humans, and some hang up when they encounter the message.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but after the folks over at LucyPhone reached out to companies, they can go from hanging up 30 percent of the time to being complete LucyPhone fanatics and calling back 100 percent of the time,” says creator Tom Oristian.
Overall, fewer than 10 percent of users are left hanging because the agent hangs up, according to LucyPhone.
The company uses Twitter as a carrot for new customers. It also uses it as a weapon when users’ calls are dropped. Users are then encouraged to send a predesigned message to Twitter, which scolds the company with a message that companies notice because they monitor Twitter closely. One recent message, for example, read, “#PNCBank Don’t hang up on @lucyphone!”
2. WeTransfer [https://www.wetransfer.com]:
This is one of my top three favorite apps, which has made my business life so much easier.
I now do not have to fear that after waiting for ages for Google’s Gmail to tell me that I’m timed out because a file is too large to send (and without instructions about what to do!), WeTransfer has come to my and your rescue.
It is a free online file-transferring platform, which basically means that all you have to do is select the receiver and then select the file, music, or image you want to send. Next press the send button, and magically they transfer your data to your receiver. There’s no hassle, no stress, and no charge. Anyone in the world can send up to 2GB per transfer.
Best of all this means no more waiting for ages for a large file to go through your email system only to receive the annoying message that your file is too large.
3. Clean Print [http://www.formatdynamics.com]
This is another of my top three app picks.
You know how annoying it is when you are trying to copy an article to email it to a colleague and you end up with all of the advertising? If you want it to look clean, you have to try to delete all of the extraneous information. What if you are trying to save the article for future reference and put it in a specific folder? Now you have the horrendous task of having to use Adobe to save it as a PDF. No one wants to experience this.
Welcome to CleanPrint. Not only is it an economically and ecologically friendly print tool that saves you time, aggravation, paper, ink, and money, but it also makes your output look great.
Simply save the CleanPrint icon to your tool bar. Then when you need to activate it, you place your cursor next to the article and click your icon instead of your print or save button. Before printing or saving content, you can add a note, eliminate images, increase or decrease font size, and eliminate text to save ink and paper. You can send your web page to any number of places, including your printer, Google Cloud Print, PDF document, rich text format, e-mail, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box accounts and your Kindle!
4. Snagit [http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html]:
Imagine capturing a screen from a webpage and then being able to highlight sections, add call outs, use arrows, circle words, photos, etc. Imagine it no more! Snagit is a great app for that and more.
Snagit ups the ante of CleanPrint. Calling TechSmith’s Snagit a screen capture tool is a bit like calling a Swiss army knife a knife. Yes, it’s first and foremost a screen capture tool, and a very good one at that. However, Snagit offers a lot more than the other free gadgets that are out there that capture screen images. This includes Apple’s Grabit, which comes pre-installed on their Mac computers.
In fact, Snagit is more of a graphics toolkit optimized for capturing and using onscreen images and information than a screen grabber. Snagit is advanced enough to enhance productivity for business users and other professionals, but it’s also easy enough for home users to start up with. Snagit is absolutely my new online toy.
This is an awesome tool for use in meetings as well as for editors, trainers, and the rest of the world!
If you regularly copy images, web pages, and screen views to save, embed, share, and use in other ways, Snagit is well worth trying. It’s free to use for 30 days.
5. LastPass [https://lastpass.com]:
LastPass is a secure password manager for all your web passwords at work and at home. Like other web-focused password managers, LastPass puts all of your individual passwords behind one master password. When you type in that master password, LastPass can then automatically log you in to any web site you visit with saved login credentials. Even better, LastPass syncs passwords over the Internet, so all your saved passwords on your work computer, for example, will always be synced up on your home computer.
Caution: If you use a Mac, then you know you always have to have another browser besides Safari. LastPass must be installed on every browser.
What I particularly love is that it can also create truly unique passwords and then remember them. Additionally it has an autofill feature. For those who are not familiar with this feature, it is a time saver bar none. If you are tired of continually filling in your company name, address, phone number, and credit card number, autofill does this for you while keeping the information secure. I must tell you that this app does require a learning curve.
6. CrashPlan [http://www.crashplan.com]:
I admit that I have yet to get CrashPlan to do what it promises. However, their customer response time is excellent and its promise is compelling.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having experienced the nightmare where a wireless back up system lost all of my files. All of my data was lost by a 2nd level (senior) technician; he was trying to remotely set up my Time Machine. Yes, the unthinkable happened. This happened to me a year ago, and I‘m still trying to recreate data that my office needs including lost passwords.
As this is probably something we have all faced, especially when we call the experts for help (whether it is Apple, Dell, Microsoft or cousin Sarah’s computer and uncle Smyth’s software services), I not only recommend different sources for backing up your data, I recommend backing up the backup.
To avoid being an innocent victim like I was, the most recommended app is CrashPlan. It is said to be the most comprehensive online backup solution. It uses a 448-bit encryption! With one easy interface, you’ll have total peace of mind.
CrashPlan has received accolades for its continuous, silent, minute-by-minute protection. Computers are not bogged down while it’s running while you work, backing up your most recent keystrokes. The system also backs up photo edits and playlists. There are different plans to meet different budgets and space requirements, including a robust free version.
The fee-based version is CrashPlan Plus. Here you can back up your data off site in multi-destinations, including backing up to a cloud, an external drive, securely to a friend’s computer, or all three for maximum protection. The issue I’ve had is that it is only backing up 46%. But 46% is better than zero, especially since it IDs the backup to my backup’s backup, and I have not yet followed their instructions to correct the problem.
7. Wunderlist [http://wunderlist.en.softonic.com]:
Whether you’re organizing your business, sharing a shopping list with a loved one or simply keeping track of your daily life, Wunderlist is the best to-do list for you, your team, or your family. The new “action bar” makes it easier to email to-dos and lists, share them with others, and quickly see who’s working on what if you’re working in a group. The bar also makes it easy to quickly sort your to-dos and lists so the things you need to work on are right up front, or you can see what’s next on your plate. But it does not stop there. It will actually send you a screen blast reminder to take the action you have designated!
Wunderlist Pro is a new premium service for $5/month (or $50/year) that includes features for groups and teams who need a more robust collaboration tool. This includes the ability to easily assign to-dos to others, share lists, and as many subtasks and dependent to-dos for any item on your list. Wunderlist Pro users also get some custom backgrounds to customize the look and feel of the app.
I’m quite happy with just the free version. It is another of my new toys.
8. OpenSignal [http://www.opensignal.com]
OpenSignal is a Wi-Fi and signal-finder toolkit. This handy app helps you find the best wireless hotspots to improve your connectivity. OpenSignal helps keep you better connected by giving you a practical solution to the problems of slow mobile Internet and dropped calls. Simply follow the signal compass to walk toward a better phone signal, or view the in-app coverage maps to work out which carrier is best for where you are. This is especially useful if you’re thinking about making a change in your carrier.
The Wi-Fi maps help you to find local public access wireless networks. It’s helpful if you’re traveling abroad or just want to find a local cafe with free Wi-Fi. The signal compass points you in the direction your signal is coming from. Just walk toward it! Don’t worry if you look like a robot walking toward your signal. The truth is that you’ll be the only one “in the know.”
So, my dear colleagues, it has become abundantly clear to me that as our world has been simplified, it has also become more complicated. I’m not sure if technology is helping or hindering us. Just kidding. Two rounds of applause for apps! They are coming at us fast and furious. There is literately an app for all. App has become the new norm so climb on board.
Please send me your favorite app at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will investigate it for my next round up of must-have apps that make an HR’s executive’s life a little easier.
CB Bowman, MBA, BCC, CMC, MCEC, is CEO and Founder of the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches and CEO of Executive Leadership, LLC (www.exec-leadershipllc.com.) ELLLC is the go to company for emerging leaders, mid-level managers, senior leaders, and organizations seeking human capital repositioning, development and/or growth through coaching, counseling, and/or strategic advice. Her focus is in corporate executive coaching, training and human capital initiatives involving the development of cognitive listening, leadership skills and behavior, transitional coaching, executive presence and branding, knowledge transfer, performance evaluation, strategic career management and marketing. Additionally, Bowman is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, in the Center for Management.