Category: Share

  • The Alter Ego Effect Sketchnote Summary

    Last year I finally decided to do something about my imposter syndrome. I picked up the most recommended book I had heard of “The Alter Ego Effect”. Little did I know that once I had finished reading it, I would have come to the conclusion that I don’t really have imposter syndrome (though sometimes suffer from self doubt) and that this book would have helped me greatly.

    Table of Contents

      Sketchnote summary of the Alter Ego Effect

      Core Idea

      You should use a different persona or “Alter ego” for different areas of your life to help you perform at your best. This helps you have emotional distance and get over the hangups you might have with acting the way you need to be the best in this area.

      Key concepts

      • Fields of play
      • Ordinary world & Extra-ordinary world
      • The trapped and heroic selves
      • Alter egos
      • The enemy
      • totem or artefact

      Why do we fail to live up to our potential?

      There are always moments when we fail to perform at our best or don’t fully apply ourselves to a task. Sometimes it comes from an external source such as an incapacity but internal forces can also hold us back.
      These internal issues can be far more frustrating as they can be both more opaque and/or easily preventable. And yet, they have a nasty tendency of sticking around and become entrenched as part of our identity.
      This is how a sport person can become known as “skilled, but missing the killer instinct” or a employee

      Fields of play

      The athletes field of play is the arena where they test their skill. This is the time and place where their performance is measured. But all of us have different areas of our lives where our performance matters. It might be in how we relate at home with our families, or how we do our core jobs at work. We may even require very different skills for different tasks we have at work (such as leading a meeting vs creating a report).
      Each different arena of life is a field of play with its own criteria for success. What make us excel in one field may hold us back in another.
      This is where an alter ego can come into play. An alter ego allows us to apply the right traits in one area of life, and apply different traits in another without any conflict.

      The Ordinary vs the Extra-ordinary world

      There are two worlds, the ordinary and extra-ordinary world.
      The ordinary world is full of negative self-talk and a destructive place. It’s the place where most of live, listening to the internal monologs that say we shouldn’t, can’t and won’t do what we long to. That’s why Todd says our “Trapped self” live here. This is the version of us that fails to perform, that is held back.
      The Extra-ordinary world is a positive environment and is an enjoyable place to be. It’s a place of flow where we get lost in the task without conscious thought. This is where the “heroic self” lives: the version of ourselves that fully applies itself to the task.

      To create an alter ego, we need to define what our heroic selves look like from the deep levels of our beliefs up to our core actions. It can be helpful to both identify when things have gone well and how we acted differently then, as well as when they went badly and the negative beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions we want to avoid.

      The Enemy and Negative Self-talk

      “The enemy” is the personification of our negative self talk. It is the dark voice that says we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t or don’t deserve to do something. It can appear in four common ways.

      • Imposter syndrome – the phenomena that makes experts feel worried they will be found out at fakes.
      • False narratives – stories we believe that prevent us from doing something. I.e. “[people like me] don’t/can’t do this.”
      • Past trauma – when past events cause us to worry about next events. For example, “last time I failed to… I bet it will happen again.”
      • Conflicting values – some of our values may hinder ourselves in other fields. For example, if we value justices, we may struggle to win in competitions.

      By identifying an enemy (giving it a name) and making it an external force, it provides us with something to fight again that is outside of us.

      Creating an alter ego

      This is an iterative process and may follow different paths usually refining as it goes along. However, the first steps are consistent.

      1. Define a field of play

      You need to pick an area of your life to build an alter ego in. The largest divisions are home and professional but you can narrow either of those down to a particular relationship or activity.

      2. Identify the goal and key actions

      What do you want to achieve in this field of play? What would success look like in this area? With that identified, break down the key actions that bring that success as well as the underlying thoughts, beliefs and values required to create those actions.

      Either 3a. Identify your desired traits

      With your goal and attributes identified, you can list out the traits you need and what they look like. You should describe them as vividly as possible. If you start with this step, move to the next one, if you start with the next one, come back to this step.

      or 3b. Identify an alter ego

      Sometimes it’s easier to jump to an alter ego straight away as your subconscious resonates with someone or something. If that’s the case, it’s worth going back to the previous step and identifying the attributes that make this alter ego a good choice.
      Some possible candidates for an alter ego include.

      • Real people
      • Fictional characters
      • Animals
      • Concepts
      • Images of a person
      • Combinations (merging aspects of two previous items)

      Activate with a totem or artefact

      A totem or artifact helps you to “activate” (put on the personality) of your alter ego. It should be a tactical item that you can touch and can even have a ritual associated with it to help “get in the right mind”.
      This works through “enclothed cognition” where we take on a trait due to associations with an object. An example is glasses which people perceive as for smart people, so we feel and act smarter with them. Or wearing a suit often causes people to be more confident.
      When our totem matches our alter ego, it helps enrich that association.

      Grab a copy of The Alter Ego effect

      If this summary has interested you and you’d like to learn more, use the button below to get your own copy so you can work through the whole process.

    1. Storyworthy book summary with Sketchnote

      Storytelling is powerful. Everyday we make reference to, our influenced by and retell stories that are part of cultural zeitgeist. The allure of storytelling has directed much of my recent reading as well as book summaries (including my recent Storybrand related book summary) but Matthew Dicks book was different.

      After seeing Storyworthy in photos of friends desks, in book summaries on other sites and recommending reading lists I finally caved and grabbed a copy.

      Best, decision, ever.

      Seriously, Storyworthy is a fantastic book on storytelling that gave me fantastic ideas not just for writing and marketing but it has idea that can help us make better track of our lives.

      Table of Contents

        Sketchnote summary of Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

        A sketchnote summary of the storyworthy book by Matthew Dicks

        Key facts

        Title: Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling
        Author: Matthew Dicks
        Year Published: 2018
        ISBN-10: ‎ 1608685489

        My three key takeaways

        1. Matt’s activities for finding storyworthy moments have been a great exercises and way to not just get story ideas but keep track of my days better.
        2. The idea of the start showing the greatest contrast with the moment of transformation was a eureka moment for me. It’s affected my approach to both storytelling and marketing materials.
        3. The idea of explaining a plan or making a prediction to get people invested, only for it to fail is my final game changing idea. It made me realise how we can create tension just by explaining an idea.

        What makes a good story?

        Every good story is about a five second moment of transformation. This is the moment when the main character, the storyteller, has a realization and things can’t be the same again.

        Every good story is about a five second moment of transformation.

        The typical mistakes in story telling including

        • Trying to be funny
        • Telling a story that has no transformation or depth
        • Focusing on crazy stories with rare or unbelievable events.

        Some of the best stories and transformations come from small moments of everyday life.

        Once you have a good moment of transformation, you just need to make sure every other part of the story directs to that moment of transformation.

        A story we can relate to

        Great stories have something that we can all relate to. A story about an incredible event few people have experienced sounds impressive, but leaves us the audience disconnected.

        This can make stories about big events (like a car crash) more difficult to tell than a story about a moment at an evening meal as they are more relatable.
        If you have a story about a huge life event, your moment of transformation needs to be relatable.

        How to get ideas for a good story

        Matthew shares three main methods to get a good story.

        1. Homework for life
        2. Crash and Burn
        3. First, last, best worst,

        Homework for life involves writing down a storyworthy moment from each day. Matthew uses an excel spreadsheet for this as it’s easy to browse through later.

        Crash and Burn is what man people know as stream of consciousness writing. You write whatever comes to your mind and follow random trains of thought. To help you get idea, try writing lists (of colours, numbers, food) and see what triggers a memory. After 10 mins of writing, go back over and see if there are any ideas that you could use in a story.

        First, last, best, worst again uses categories but this time it’s a bit more intentional. You choose an object and then the first, last, best and worst of that item. I.e. Pizza, First time you ate it, the last time you ate, the best pizza you ever ate and the worst.

        How to craft a good story

        Every part of the story needs to reinforce your moment of transformation. Start, middle and end. So you should keep the transformation in mind throughout the story.

        The importance of the start.

        The start of your story needs to set up your transformation and be as close to your moment of transformation as possible.

        The start of the story needs to be the greatest contrast between our moment of transformation.

        Matt shares the example of Jurassic Park where Alan Grant shows his dislike of Children at the start of the film but by the end of the film he has the children resting on him on the flight away from the island.
        Without showing the contrast at the beginning, the moment of transformation is strange.

        You may want to write out the before and after of your transformation (i.e. “I was one…but now…”) and then search for a moment that best encapsulated that “before” state.

        Starting as close to the moment of transformation also aids us as starting in the action. Don’t include any build up, but start in the action. You want to have momentum from the beginning so the audience feels they are going somewhere.

        Don’t include an introductory or expectation setting statement. These ruin the surprise in your story or set unrealistic expectations. For example.

        • “Let me tell you about the most incredible moment in my life.” — Now you’ve set extreme expectations)
        • “This is a story about” — now the audience is looking for signs of that.

        Raising the stakes

        An ace of hearts and poker chips with “raise the stakes” text

        The stakes are what keep people listening to a story. While stories about mundane moments can be the most profound, we can raise the stakes to keep a story interesting.

        One way is to introduce a problem that needs solving early on. This gives the audience a reason to root for you in the story. Matt call’s this the “elephant” and while the elephant may “change colour” (gain a different view or flavor), it won’t change.

        In more practical details, this means your problem may become more intense, or you may solve one aspect but discover another, but you won’t gain a new unexpected problem.

        If you do, try to cut out one problem from your story or show how it is related to the original one.

        Fortune telling and raising the stakes

        Another trick to create extra tension is to explain our plan, idea or hopes in great depth. This helps the listener feel those emotions, gain those hopes and buy into our plan. It even works if the plan makes no sense at all.

        We can also make predictions about what is going to happen (even wild crazy ones) and this gets our audience to wonder if they will happen, it can distract from the obvious outcome.

        The five permissible lies

        5 permissible lies of storytelling

        There are five types of lies which are okay in storytelling.

        1. Omission – Cut out what doesn’t matter or extra people who distract from the core parts of your people.
        2. Compression – It’s important to keep stories moving and short. You can make routes or timelines shorter so it makes the story move faster.
        3. Assumption – Sometimes we can’t remember the details but we can assume details to make our stories more vivid. Just make sure they are reasonable.
        4. Progression – we can change the order of events to make them flow better for a story. For example, making people laugh before they cry and placing the transformational moment at the end.
        5. Conflation – we can put all our emotions on one moment rather than spreading it out over time. Sometimes we have the same realization multiple times and it takes time to stick, by merging it to one, we bundle the emotions together.

        The “But” and “Therefore” Rule

        The South Park writers says that a story is bad when every scene is connected with a “and then”. This shows that it is the natural flow of events and there’s no drama. We can predict what is going to happen next.

        If a scene is linked by “but” or “therefore” it creates more tension and makes the story unpredictable.

        Use negatives

        Similarly, negatives are better than a positive adjective (I’m not smart vs I’m dumb) as it shows potential.

        Using a negative introduces the positive idea while showing we aren’t there yet. As our story is about transformation, we get our audience to hope that the protagonist will change to the positive state.
        We can use multiple negatives attributes before ending with a positive. This emphasizes the positive at the end as it stands out more.

        “I’m not smart, not handsome and flat broke.”

        Exception: Always answer a question with a positive. It’s strange to answer a question with a negative description.

        Keep it short

        Make sure your story is to the point and tight. There may be extra details that are cool or impressive, but they distract from the story. We need to keep it short. The longer you speak, the better the story needs to be.


        Surprise is powerful in stories. It keeps people engaged and it is the key for humor as it makes people laugh.

        To increase surprise, we need to hide details by distracting the audience.

        We can do that with humour or placing key details in a string of other details. If we focus on another detail around the same time, it suggests that detail is more important than the real key detail.

        Some previous points can help with our surprises such as

        • explaining our hopes and dreams,
        • giving detailed plans (that fail)
        • showing alternative possibilities

        We can ruin surprises by

        • including a thesis statement at the start of the story
        • not explaining the stakes or a situation
        • not including critical information in advance

        One challenge is making sure we include critical details so a surprise makes sense, but camouflage them well enough so people don’t predict the outcome.

        The present tens is king

        Most people tell stories in the past tense as they are about events in the past. But we can also tell stories in the present tense.

        “I was on a train” vs “I’m on a train”.

        Using the present tense helps the listener to feel like they are in this story at this very moment. We can then use the past tense to provide background information during the story.

        Shifting tenses can highlight emotion in a story.

        While the past tense can add more distance which is useful for gross moments or moments when you want the audience to have more distance.

        It’s tricky and take some practice, but a skilled story teller can switch seamlessly between tenses.

        No one likes a bragging story

        “I started off great, had a great time, and everything ended perfectly” is the type of story arrogant jocks tell.

        We prefer failure stories because we can more easily relate to them.

        If you are telling a hero story, you need to either show your negative aspects and give yourself potential to grow or position yourself as an underdog so the audience will root for you.

        How to deliver a good story

        Matt doesn’t advise memorizing the whole story, just three parts.

        • the beginning — make sure you can start the story well
        • the end — make sure you nail your moment of transformation and conclusion
        • the scenes. — make sure you know where you are going to next.

        If you try to memorize everything, you can add extra stress and feel lost when you go off track, but memorizing the key beats will help you have confidence and flexibility.

        Grab your copy of storyworthy!

        There’s more insights in Matt’s books as well as examples of his own stories. If you want to your own copy, click the button below and find it at your favourite book shop.

      1. Digital Minimalism Book Summary

        I grabbed a copy of digital minimalism as soon as it came out. After reading Cal Newport’s previous book, Deep Work, I knew it would be good. But there was another reason driving my reading that you may well be able to relate to.

        I felt like the constant noise of the online world was just a bit too much. I loved the benefits of online tools, websites and communication, but it felt like a bike going down a steep hill that had changed from fun to unable to stop.

        A few weeks back, I felt that same feeling again and as I woke up and found myself with my phone in my hand before a cup of coffee was there, I knew I needed to reread and reapply the lessons of the book.
        So here is my book summary.

        Table of Contents

          Digital Minimalims Sketchnote summary

          Yes, for the sketchnote summary of digital minimalism I went back to analog sketchnoting using my Neuland markers.

          The most common approach to technology

          Cal calls this approach “digital maximialism”: freely adopting any new technology that seems to offer some benefit to us.
          This can seem a natural idea and positive as we gain the real benefits that these new tools offer us. A small example is that I can be connected with my family who live in a different country and my daughter has grown up speaking with her grandparents even though she hasn’t been able to see them in over a year due to the covid restrictions.

          The problem of digital maximialism

          There are there consequences that come out from our wild use of social media and related technology. These include

          • increased dissatisfaction and depression.
          • We’re hooked on the short term rewards from using our devices. This reduces our capacity to focus for a long period of time.
          • It becomes difficult to concentrate due to the noise and anxiety we feel
            The net effect is we are less happy and less able to do the activities which are deeply satisfying.

          What is digital minimalism

          The alternative to this technological maximialist approach is Digital minimalism.

          Digital minimialsm is an approach to using technology that focuses on getting the most of the benefits we wants from technology, in the least time via intentional and focused use.

          Cal focuses on short bursts of time, but with high intentionality and optimized practices. A practical example is we don’t log on to social media whenever we want to mindlessly scroll, instead we schedule when we will log on for a time limited period and with clear goals before we do so.

          A Digital Detox to readjust

          The practices at the heart of digital minimalism.

          A key part of digital minimalism is the practices that can help you apply these ideas in your life. One of the aspects I really appreciated is the positive actions not just negative avoidance. These are split into four sections.

          1. Solitude in Suburbia

          One of the key steps is to disconnect from all the noise around us and create our own “waldens” like Thoreau. Cal notes that during Thoreau’s stay at Walden pond, he was still connected to society and could still receive visitors or take the 30 min trip to the centre of town, at the same time, it was an intentional disconnecting.
          Some practical ideas includes.

          • Leave your phone at home – go for walks without it. Enjoy the silence.
          • Go for walks

          2. Engage in Rich Communications

          Not all communication is equal. Some is richer than others. A quick “like” on social media isn’t as rich as a sit down conversation due to the deeper engagement of your senses.
          However, these low quality communications feel satisfying as we get a hit of dopamine. These hits encourage us to stick to these lower quality communications.
          Here are some practices

          • Avoiding hitting like
          • Find face 2 face communication opportunities (in person is best, video next.)
          • Instead of sending text messages throughout the day, set certain times to work through text messages (applies to email et al)
          • Set communication “Office hours” regular times when you can be contacted.
            • You could be in a physical place too.

          3. Reclaim Leisure

          Most of us spend our free time passively consuming netflix or social media. While neither activity is wrong, the issue is unintentionality. It is better to have a plan for leisure that involves demanding activities. Here are some ideas.

          • Fix or build something each week (even if you aren’t naturally skilled. Developing and growing is rewarding).
          • Make a leisure plan (Decide what goals you will work towards in your free time)
          • Join something (groups and communities provide richer experiences )

          4. Join the attention resistance.

          The final practice involves activities that push back on attention stealing services and devices. While many people will accept the earlier practices, the following are the most likely to result in a “but you’ll miss out” reaction. At the same time, they are key to a full picture of digital minimalism.

          • delete social media apps
          • dumb down your phone

          Use social media like a pro

          Those who use social media for their profession often employee very different tactics to the average consumer. This is due to their focused goals and need to get the maximum value in the shortest time. These professional social media users can help provide a model for us regular users to more effectively engage with social media.

          • Limit your time on social media – set deliberate times, don’t constantly use.
          • Use filtered lists and searches to find really valuable content (The twitter advanced search can let you find the most engaged tweets on a certain topic which are more likely to be high value.)
          • Limit the number of people you follow. (You might want to consider Dunbar’s number as your guide. )

          How I’m applying Digital minimalism.

          As I said at the start, this is my second time working through digital minimalism. Although I introduced many of the old measures and intended to introduce others, overtime I stopped being as intentional.
          In my first pass, I

          • deleted my social media apps and set up limits using Apple’s limit features
          • reduced the number of people I followed on Social media
          • tried leaving my phone at home
          • set two quarter’s of leisure goals.
          • Took more walks
          • avoided hitting like

          The practices I stuck to the best were walking more and reducing the number of people I follow. These are activities that have stuck around and the second was one I can occasionally do but regularly benefit from. The most difficult to implement have been those that require multiple other people such as joining a club and office hours.

          I am only a couple of weeks into my return to digital minimalism so it’s difficult to say how well these practices will actually turn out but I want to share my ideas anyway.

          I’ve set Saturday as a digital downtime day. This is my day to leave the phone at home and do something physical as well as spend time with people. That’s been the big difference so far, I have both the negative idea (get away from the phone/screens) with a positive (spend quality time with people).

          Building and fixing is the practice I most neglected last time and yet is the one that appeals deeply to me this time. The closest practice I could point to that I previously took up was calligraphy but that slowly drifted to being mostly digital on an iPad.
          This time I am interested in doing more DIY projects as well as investigating some wood craft to learn to make a ukulele.

          Our recent DIY projects have set a great start and I intend to continue, but intentions are a dime a dozen so we’ll have to watch how this turns out.

          Get your copy of Cal’s book

          if this has whet your appetite for Cal’s book and you want to know some more details of the problems with Social media, why the practices are beneficial and how you can apply them, use the link below.

        1. Hello, My Name is Awesome Book Summary

          I’ve taken part in a few brand naming exercises over the last couple of years. Most of these were for products but the need for a good name was the same. While it’s easy to spot a good name in the wild, coming up with one is another matter.

          For years I had just assume that it was a matter of luck, thinking and waiting, but the action plan in the book Hello, my name is awesome makes this process more straight forward, even if it does still require a lot of time, energy and thought to come up with a good name.

          This books summary has my main takeaways and will provide you with a guideline that you can implement as well.

          Table of Contents

            How to create brand names that stick Actions steps to come up with a brand name

            There are really four steps to generate a brand or product name.

            1. Generate 12 words that describe or are related to your brand.
            2. Follow a nine step brainstorming (or expansion) of these words
            3. Synthesize your research into name ideas
            4. Use the SMILE and SCRATCH criteria to review the possible names you have

            Why this process works

            This process is based on the same mindset as that in A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young.

            You immerse yourself in a topic till you gain mind fog, you distract your mind from the task and let your subconscious chew on it, you wait for eureka and then refine the idea from there.

            The process in Hello, My Name Is Awesome just helps you drown yourself in the topic of a product name.

            The additional aspect I recommend from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” is to engage in an emotionally stimulating distraction when you feel overwhelmed by a topic.

            The list of 12

            To start, you need a list of 12 words that describe or are related to the brand. Look for a diverse list and avoid just stating synonyms; that will come later.

            The brainstorming process

            The brainstorming process is about turning that list of 12 into a list of 1200!

            You want to dive into a wide variety of different stimuli to find alternative ways of saying a word or how others have used the name in the past.

            The nine steps are

            1. Using a thesaurus for synonyms
            2. Using image search to see visual associations
            3. Using a Glossary to find related industry words
            4. Using Dictionaries to see idioms and expressions
            5. Using to find Cliche’s related to the term
            6. Using Google suggestions and related searches
            7. Using movie titles
            8. Using book titles
            9. Using song titles

            Book titles are particularly useful as they aren’t subject to copyright and so can be reused.

            Once you have completed this process for every word, you will have a long list of ideas and inspiration to draw upon. You may be starting to feel mental and topical fatigue. That’s a good sign that you have fill your brain with the topic.


            The key part of synthesizing an idea is subconscious, but you should still start by consciously trying combinations of words and name ideas. You may find THE idea this way, but even if you do, let your subconscious have a go at crunching all the information you’ve filled it with and see if it can generate a better idea.

            Deliberately give your brain a break when you can’t think any more, but keep a note book with you. This break could be a shower, a long walk, a good film or a trip to an art gallery. relaxing and emotionally stimulating tasks work best.

            Once you’ve got a few idea down, it’s time to evaluate.

            The review process: Smile and scratch

            You’re review process has two steps.

            1. Smile – finding good names.
            2. Scratch – eliminating bad ones.

            SMILE: 5 Qualities of sticky names

            • Suggestive – It doesn’t describe, it evokes.
            • Meaningful – Something that will resonate with potential customers
            • Imagery – Something which is visually evocative
            • Legs – An idea which can be extended
            • Emotional – Something which moves people, reminds them of memories and associations.

            SCRATCH: Ideas to remove

            • Spelling – don’t use clever spellings, it confuses people
            • Copycat – don’t follow other companies, be original
            • Restrictive – It doesn’t allow for future growth
            • Annoying – Something that is forced or just doesn’t work.
            • Tame – Don’t go for a safe, boring and forgettable name
            • Curse of Knowledge – Don’t use a name that only makes sense to you and your inner group
            • Hard to pronounce – Make sure people can tell others what your name is

            Finding the domain

            Once you’ve gone through all this process, then you should look at domain names and usernames on social media platforms. This might seem like it’s too later and it might but the copycat step should help eliminate some problems by this point. If you find there’s another company with the same domain (and there’s a good chance of that now), you can either use a more unique TLD or add a verb to the start of your website domain, like which offers domain hosting.

            Grab a copy of Hello, My Name Is Awesome

            If you’d like to read the whole, short book, grab a copy bellow.

            Or you can check out other book summaries here.

          1. My Favourite iPhone Apps 2021

            After sharing my favourite Mac apps of 2021, I thought I’d continue and share my favourite iPhone apps from this year. In truth, they’re quite similar to my favourite apps for the last five years or so.

            I haven’t included iPad apps and while some would repeat, there would definitely be some differences.

            Similar to last time, and again stolen from Ali Abdaal, I’m using the categories create, consume, connect, coordinate.


            These are the apps I use to make things, whether that is text, images, or physical activities.


            drafts app icon hand drawn

            Drafts is the marmite app of Apple nerds. Either you love it and it’s essential or you just don’t get it.
            For me, drafts is a text scratch pad; a place where I can put something down without worrying where it will go. OR, where I can write something with more control than trying to type in a tiny website text input box.

            The features of drafts that suit this are.

            Drafts opens in a fresh note

            I set a couple of minutes as my refresh time so I can go back and forth to webpages without losing a note, but when inspiration strikes as I walk, it’s a blank canvas.

            Drafts actions help me get text where it needs to go.

            The actions in drafts make it easy to transform text into todo actions, emails, references notes practically anything. This has become more important for me as the Obsidian mobile app still isn’t out so I rely on drafts to capture an idea and save it.

            iA Writer

            iA Writer

            a hand drawn version of the ia writer icon

            iA Writer is my long form writing application and is also connected to my Obsidian vault. So I can draft and outline for an article while commuting or write a whole piece if I really want.
            As I don’t have Obsidian on the phone yet, iA Writer also lets me find, edit and update notes in my “second brain” or whatever you want to call it.


            a hand drawn camera icon

            The camera is one of my most used apps. Whether it’s a quick photo or a little video of my family doing something cute, the camera app is easy to use, always there and does a good enough job 90% of the time.

            Filmic pro

            a hand drawn version of the filmic pro app icon

            I started making videos using just my iPhone and iPad (In fact, my whole 30 days of sketch noting course used those two devices). Filmic pro really helped raise the quality of videos that I could create with these devices.
            Recently, it added support for the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 which has been great for me as an owner.
            Admittedly, I shoot less with filmic pro since I got my Nikon z50 but it’s good to have as an option.


            This is a stupid little press-up counter (I know, press-ups in create? But it doesn’t fit any other categories). I love it because it just counts and tracks the number of pushups you do. While this isn’t the worlds greatest exercise routine, it’s such a small activity that It’s the perfect break during the work day.

            Oh and you can get it for free.


            This selection of apps are for taking in content, from audio, video, and text. There is one bonus item that is almost a connector.

            Pocket casts

            a hand drawn version of the pocket casts icon

            Podcasts means pockets casts to me.
            I’ve tried other apps like overcast but I’ve used pocket casts since I was an android user many years ago.
            The desktop app is a real bonus.


            I don’t often use the YouTube app on my phone and when I do, I usually what the screen off but listen to a video lecture (thank you YouTube premium).

            YouTube music

            a hand drawn version of the YouTube music icon

            YouTube premium means I get YouTube music too. While not the best music service, it is good enough. And if you like jazz, the live performances and covers are actually a positive thing.


            hand drawn scribd icon

            Scribd is like Netflix for books (and audiobooks). I love this app and it’s helped me read 3x more books last year.
            Use my referral code to get a 60 day trial (instead of the usual 30 days) and give me some free days too.


            hand drawn kindle icon

            Not every book is on scribd but there is kindle. I know the iBooks app might be better, but I’m in the kindle ecosystem after buying ebooks years ago for it (plus my Apple account is set to Poland and that is…tricky).


            hand drawn Instapaper icon

            Saving articles to Instapaper is a core part of my effective online reading strategy. While there are many options, Instapaper works well for me and has some nice design choices.


            hand drawn readwise icon

            Readwise turns my highlights (from kindle, Instapaper and other sources) into a reviewable and sharable stream. I love the daily review, graphics it create and it saves all my highlights into Evernote to review later.

            (p.s. the link below gives us both a free month)


            hand drawn logos icon

            Logos is a premium Bible app and Christian resource centre. You can access dictionaries, commentaries, devotionals, maps, courses, as well as create notes.
            Really it’s part of the whole logos ecosystem which is what makes it so powerful. It’s great for both reading a morning scripture and preparing sermons.


            The iPhone was primarily designed as a communications device and so it’s no surprise there are a good number of apps to contact people.

            Messeges and FaceTime

            FaceTime icon hand drawn

            Living abroad means video calls are a big deal for us. For the people who have it, messages and FaceTime are the best way to connect.

            I also use WhatsApp and Facebook messenger but I don’t really like using either.


            a hand drawn base camp icon

            Chad Moore and I use Basecamp for side project sprints. I don’t tend to use the iPhone app but I do sometimes. The main feature I find useful with the phone app is sending some causal messages back and forth as well as occasionally ticking off a task.


            a censored slack icon

            I’m part of a few fun slacks. Again, I don’t tend to use it on my phone but it’s a nice option especially for sharing pictures of Sketchnotes to the sketchnote army slack.

            Microblog + Sunlit

            hand drawn microblog icon

            Microblog was in my list of favourite Mac apps too and for good reason. The easy publishing and social network are fantastic for personal blogging. Sunlit provides a photo focused option for browsing and publishing images.


            I should hate Twitter, but I love it (while having moments of hate). I’ve left before but then come back for some reason and find myself sinking time in.
            Although I’m sure I ought to like an app like tweetbot, the official app caught me with its support for polls and threads.


            The key criteria in my first smart phone was a digital calendar. I wanted to address my natural poor organisation and so it’s no surprise that this category is still crucial to me.


            hand drawn streaks icon

            I track a string of habits in streaks, currently;

            1. Reading the Bible
            2. Walking 10,000 a day
            3. Reading for at least 10 mins
            4. Journal
            5. Brushing my teeth for 3 mins twice a day
            6. Doing at least 10 press-ups

            I occasionally add a new habit to try and make it stick and start with the lowest activation energy I need.
            I love the new widget.


            hand drawn todoist icon

            I don’t really like Todoist, but I’m happy enough with it and it works everywhere. This was a bigger deal when I was using a PC for work but since moving back to a Mac, I’m looking at moving all over to OmniFocus again.
            Still, Todoist keeps me organised and the karma aspect is a great little gamification. While it may not be perfect, it hits a good simplexity balance for me, where I can make it more or less complex depending on my needs.

            (If you sign up with the link below, I get two months of pro for free)


            I’ve really come to rely on Trello recently. I manage my works content calendar in Trello and being able to respond to comments on the go can be really handy in our flexi-work situation.

            And my personal status board in Trello helps me stay on top of work and life.
            The mobile app is really fantastic and Trello does a great job of making it simple to move cards around even on the phone.


            a hand drawn fantastical icon

            Fantastical is one of the first apps I bought due to its natural language input and great display. I’ve not paid for the subscription but have lock in to some of the premium features due to past payments.
            I really like how it looks and the controls it offers.

            Apps I don’t like, but have to use

            At some point during writing I started to include apps that I use a lot and then realised I don’t like them! So I created a new section.


            We use Skype a lot for work.
            I do not like Skype.
            Although the iOS app is better than the desktop one.

            Facebook (& business suite)

            My church uses Facebook a lot, so I use Facebook. That’s basically it. The business app is great for sharing updates or sending a message to a potential visitor.

            Notable absences

            Both apps that I don’t have, or don’t really use.

            No mail

            I frequently delete email apps from my phone to avoid the curse of the pings and temptation to dive into them. I’ve done the same with social networking sites, using the web versions when necessary.
            I just checked and technically I do have mail on my phone, but it’s with an email account that gets no email but lets me send stuff IF I need.


            I still have instagram but…meh, it’s there. Sometimes I find myself scrolling through it but it’s really not my social network.

            What are your favourite iPhone apps?

            I’d love to know any iPhone apps that you are crazy about which aren’t on my list.

          2. Marketing Made Simple Book Summary

            I was part of a marketing community where someone shared a confusing picture. Their diagram, representing their marketing funnel, was definitely not Marketing Made Simple. It sought to provide effective follow up to every action across every communication channel.

            I suspect that marketing campaign would probably be more effective than the one I will share from Donald Miller’s book, Marketing Made Simple. However, the marketing made simple book summary and marketing plan below is one that any business could implement AND it wouldn’t make a prospect feel herded down a path their don’t want to follow.

            Table of Contents

              Sketchnote summary of Marketing Made Simple

              A sketchnote summary of marketing made simple focusing on the five steps of a marketing plan.

              The No.1 problem with most marketing

              Most companies have messages like “Save time, save money”. The problem is, that could apply to ANYTHING.

              At my old job we literally used this as a test of a marketing message. Could we say it about some other computer software? If so, it was a bad message.

              The appeal of the “Save time, save money” message is from it appeal to our basic instincts – Time and money are limited and we need them to survive.

              While it is good to show how your product or service helps a person to survive, a message of “Save time, save money” blends in.
              When any company could say the same message, a customer can choose any company.

              You need to have a memorable message.

              Instead of a forgettable message, you need a clear message that sticks. It needs to be something that you everyone in your company can remember and say.
              Once you’ve got it, you use it everywhere and across your marketing to make sure it sticks.

              Three stages in a customer journey

              It’s obvious that not everyone is ready to buy from you when they first meet your company. Instead there are three stages in their journey (excluding when they don’t know you). (This is a simplified version of the classic “Stages of awareness“)


              When you first meet someone, there’s a lot you don’t know and a lot of questions that you’ll have. You want to learn the basics about them, get to know them a bit and find out more.

              Many prospects don’t go beyond this stage, they get confused or are distracted by the next curiosity. Have a clear, effective message helps.


              When a prospect has a moment of realization and discovery, they enter the enlightenment stage. This is where they know about you and have seen something valuable. They get how you are different and can help them with their issues.


              The final stage is when they agree to buy. To get to this point, they need to have passed through the previous two stages and be invited to go further.

              How the three stages related to marketing

              Curiosity – Explain who you are

              Once someone has encountered you, via ads or a social post, you need to explain who you are and what you do. You do this by inviting the prospect into a story where you position your company as the guide.

              This can happen in many places, but the main place is your website homepage.

              Enlightenment – give value / reveal insights

              The customer reaches enlightenment either by you explaining an insight or providing some value. This could be an understanding as to why they need your product or service, or how your product or service is unique and superior.

              This can happen through articles, podcast episodes and emails, but an easy way is with a lead generating PDF.

              Commitment – ask to buy

              To get a customer to agree to buy, we must ask them. This can happen on your website, in a social post and other places but the most effective is as part of an email marketing sequence.

              Execution – the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful marketing

              The problem with many marketing plans isn’t the plans, but a failure to execute the plans. It is better to have a plan which you can execute rather than a brilliant plan which can’t be realized.

              The plan outlined in Marketing Made Simple may not be the most conclusive but when correctly implemented, it will be more effective than 90% of other companies marketing strategies.

              The Five-step Marketing plan to make sales

              A 5 step marketing plan that works

              A simple five step marketing plan is all you need. It should include …

              1. a one liner
              2. wireframe a website
              3. a lead generating pdf
              4. a nurturing email email campaign
              5. A sales email campaign

              A one liner

              This is the short summary or elevator pitch for your business. It should be the answer to the question “what do you do?”
              The simple formula is

              1. State the problem
              2. Define the solution
              3. Share the results.
                This may be a paragraph long at first, but later you can condense it.

              A website that converts

              Most websites make the mistake of telling the company story or just DUMPING information on the customer.

              marketing made simple website mistakes

              Typical website mistakes

              • using insider language
              • Long headlines
              • It tells the company story not the customers
              • And they have a confusing and unappealing offer.

              A ingredients of a good website

              marketing made simple outline for a website that converts

              Instead, you want a website that will

              • pique your prospects curiosity,
              • give them a reason to go further in your marketing funnel (your lead generator)
              • and provide an easy way for them to buy your product or service.

              A converting website should include

              • A header section – with your one-liner
              • The stakes – what happens if you don’t buy
              • The value proposition – what they will get
              • the guide – the evidence that you can deliver
              • The plan – what the customer needs to do
              • An explanatory paragraph – great for SEO
              • (optional) a video – helps build connection
              • Price choices – An option for every budget
              • the junk draw – for all the important legal stuff

              A lead generating PDF

              Okay, you don’t need to have a lead generating PDF, but you do need to have a lead generator, and a PDF is a low-budget, easy to produce option.
              This PDF should be

              • worth about $10-20
              • relevant to your customers and your products – you want to “qualify” customers.
              • Short – so your customer can gain value FAST.
                You can, and should, experiment with different lead generating PDFs to see what resonates the most with your customers. You can also repackage PDFs in a different format (video guide/series etc) to attract different customer types.

              Alternative lead gens to a PDF

              People don’t sign up “to get the next newsletter”, that’s why we offered something of value in exchange their email address. But you don’t have to stick with a PDF, and one of these alternatives can stand out more.

              • A short video series
              • A drip email campaign
              • A physical product or free sample
              • an in-person event where you collect email address
              • a short challenge

              Whatever option you choose, make sure you give something valuable and the customer discovers your unique benefit by the end.

              A nurturing email campaign that build relationships

              Most customers aren’t ready to buy straight away. They…

              • May need to know you are the right company for them
              • Might not NEED your product or service right now
              • May need to wait till they have the cash
                A nurturing sequence helps customers build stronger connections with your brand so they like, know, trust you and reminds them about your offerings for when they are ready to buy.

              This sequence should include

              • valuable tips and insights
              • customer success stories
              • website Articles
              • videos
              • podcast episodes and interviews

              It’s a good idea to email at least once a week so you stay top of mind.
              If you publish a blog, podcast or videos, you can include those which will also increase the visibility of that material.

              Good emails…

              1. Are short
              2. Solve a problem
              3. Are helpful
              4. Provide value
              5. Include a CTA (even in nurture emails)
              6. Include a post script – repeat the main message & summarize your content

              What can you include in a nurturing email campaign?

              A sales email campaign that brings in cash

              In addition to your nurturing emails, you need sales emails.

              Which comes first the nurturing or the sales?

              Don advises starting with a sales campaign after someone downloads your lead gen. This makes sense for the customers who are ready now and looking to solve their problems soon. You don’t want to keep them waiting for your offer. (In truth, this is a small nurturing campaign).
              Once a prospect has completed the sales campaign, even if they have bought, you should add them to your nurture campaign.

              What goes in a Sales email campaign?

              Don lays out a simple six part sales email campaign

              1. Deliver your lead gen – GIVE the client what you said you would.
              2. State the problem and the solution – This email shows you understand their issues and how you are uniquely placed to solve it.
              3. Send a customer testimonial – This is your chance to share how a customer overcame the same problem. It helps the reader imagine themselves in the clients shoes as well as adds credibility.
              4. Overcome an objection – the best way to do this is with another case study or testimonial but one that addresses a fear. “We were worried that…(objection to buying) but in the end…”
              5. Paradigm shift. – This is another objection overcomer but in this case its about reframing the whole issue. A common one is price. “That’s a lot of money for X!” “It is a lot of money for X, but this is so much more than X, it’s…”
              6. Sales email – Just sell. Don’t make a pitch, just ask the customer to buy.

              The best marketing plan is the one you can implement

              There are definitely more complex and fine tuned marketing plans out there. You may even be able to successfully implement one and reap the benefits. BUT, many companies miss crucial steps and end up with an incompletely plan that is more flash than substance.

              The plan above is both achievable and agile so you can adjust when you notice aspects not working or need to bring a new product to market.

              Get a copy of Marketing Made Simple

              If you want to read the original book (instead of this marketing made simple book summary) a copy for yourself.

              You might also want to check out my book summary of Social Media Success for Every Brand which is a complement to this book.