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A day in the life of a nerdy MDRT member

Beth Ziesenis

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Audio 0:53:43

Note: Any content shared is only viewable to MDRT members.

This laugh-filled presentation will help you visualize a tech-filled day from sunrise to sunset and share tech tools to help you live and work more efficiently.

All right, you ready? Hands up. When I count to three, I want you to reach for your nearest mobile device as fast as you can and hold it in the air. One, two, three. You can all put them down now. It took five seconds for a whole room full of people to get their hands on their phone. And I would bet that at any time of day or night, you are no more than 30 seconds away from that device.

Ponder this for a moment. There’s a little bit of controversy about whether this is 100 percent true, but common thought is that the device that is within 30 seconds of your person at any given time of day or night is more powerful than the technology they used to put a man on the moon. That means that there is more technology at your fingertips than has ever existed for consumers in the history of the world. So think about that today as we go forward and think about the technology that we can use.

Now that you have your phone, is there anybody sitting next to somebody you like?

You’re actually all supposed to say yes. Some of you just looked awkwardly around the table and shook your heads.

If you’re sitting next to somebody you like, I want you to make eye contact with somebody you don’t know because you’re about to get to know a new person really well. I want you to walk up to somebody you need to network with and make a connection with that person and say, “What’s on your phone?” Two minutes. Go!

All right. Let me ask you, did you find out something about somebody you didn’t know? I know you found some great apps from your colleagues. I want to find out who has the best app in the room, and the person with the best app wins a prize. These are knee-high NERD socks. [visual]

Today, we’re going to talk about a day in the life of someone in your shoes. What if you use technology from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night to make your life easier — to organize, to have things happen without you having to do them? How would that look?

You wake up, and, in the olden days, you would reach to your side table where your phone is your alarm, but right now your phone is in bed with you because you’re using the Sleep Time app. The Sleep Time app is on the bed next to you and monitors your tossing and turning. Say you want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. You can set it for a window of time, like 20 minutes before, and it will understand when you are in your lightest sleep period and wake you up.

Now, if you have a Samsung Galaxy 7, don’t use this because they catch fire. So, instead, you might try the world’s most annoying alarm clock. [visual]

As MDRT members, you are always working. We all know that. As soon as you get out of bed, you check your email. Woo hoo! A new client is inquiring! But before you write back, you take an extra step that puts you immediately on the right track for landing this client.

You look the person up on LinkedIn and push the magic button from a site called Crystal is a tool I file under the category #HelpfulButCreepy. What Crystal does is analyze your contacts and put them into one of 64 personality profiles using the DISC® system. And understanding your clients’ personalities will help you communicate more efficiently and help them the way they want to be helped.

Here is my Crystal profile. [visual] Now, it’s all fine and dandy to know yourself, but how can this help you with your clients or colleagues?

A while ago this guy named Troy Malone hired me to work for his company. We had been friends for years, and I was excited to join his team. But when I got there, I felt like I always was doing something wrong. He just seemed really impatient with me. He would kind of leave meetings in the middle. I always felt like I was talking too much. I just felt like I wasn’t a good employee. I left the company on good terms after a couple of years, but I never really felt good about it.

Then I looked him up on Crystal. Here’s Troy. [visual] Teams pay tens of thousands of dollars to my speaker colleagues and consulting colleagues to come into a company and fix team dynamics. If somebody had called an expert to fix the team dynamics with me and Troy, we would have paid thousands of dollars, but if we had just looked each other up through Crystal and talked honestly about where we were and what we think and how we act, it would have changed the way I worked at that company.

See? It’s #HelpfulButCreepy.

You’re headed to the office, but you have a quick stop to make downtown. But in the downtown area, it’s easy to get turned around. Fear not! Google Maps has a new feature that superimposes directions and other information on apps using augmented reality. This is rolling out in the next year, and it will give that added help to on-the-ground directions, especially in cities.

On the way to work, you have a brilliant idea, and what could be more brilliant than bringing cupcakes to the staff? Now, I know all of you have your favorite cupcake place, but today you’re going to try something different. A crazy app called Kabaq Augmented Reality Food actually lets you visualize dishes from restaurants to help you choose the best. Several restaurants are already using the technology, so you’re able to call up VR pictures of the magnificent desserts at Magnolia Bakery (pretend you’re in New York City).

Lo and behold, Magnolia Bakery has been sold to a Czech couple, and they’ve translated all the menus. Your Czech is a little rusty, but that’s OK because you have the Google Translate app.

Now, I know you guys know Google Translate has been around for a long time, but it, too, has a secret feature that you probably are not aware of. [visual] Where was this in high school French? Once you have this on your phone and you download a language, if you’re traveling internationally and you’re looking at signs or menus, it doesn’t use data if you have it already in your phone, so you can just download and go. The company is also trying out real-time translation services that allow two people to speak and translate back and forth in a real conversation.

Another tool in your translation toolbox is Microsoft Translator. The real-time translation tools with this app let you hook multiple people up in a virtual chatroom. The participants can all join in their own languages, and when each person speaks, everyone in the chatroom will see the translation on their phones.

Now, it’s time to interview your new assistant. Let me ask you, how many emails does it take to set up a meeting with the back and forth? “Hey, can you meet?” “No. Can you meet?” “No. Can you meet?” “No.” It’s a pain, but new technology is making it simple. And this is another #HelpfulButCreepy.

This is a tool called [visual] That’s actually how they pronounce it. It doesn’t make any sense to me either, but it’s artificial intelligence that does your scheduling for you.

Let’s say you’re here, and you meet somebody, and that person contacts you in a few days and says, “Hey, it was nice meeting you at MDRT. I would love to continue our conversation. Do you have time for coffee?” You write back to Mary, you copy a person named Amy, and you say, “Sure, Mary. Amy, can you find 30 minutes for coffee at my office?”

Here’s the kicker: Amy doesn’t exist. Amy is artificial intelligence, and there is no human involved. So Amy, who doesn’t exist, writes to Mary and says, “Happy to get something on the calendar. Do any of these times work? Here’s the address.”

Mary, who doesn’t know Amy doesn’t exist, writes back in plain and simple language saying, “Mornings are not so good. So 11 a.m. slots are out. 4 p.m. I can do.”

“Thanks, Mar” (they’re close now).

So Amy writes back to Mary and says, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll send out an invite.” All this happens behind the scenes without your interference or knowledge. Amy has set up this calendar event for you and sent out invitations.

There are several of these out here, and, believe it or not, this technology has been around for a while. No matter which time zone you’re in around the globe, can handle the tasks behind the scenes.

Does this creep anyone out? Just wait. Google got into a lot of trouble for this. [visual] People said, “Oh my gosh! Robots are going to take over the world!” So Google says, “OK, we’ll make sure we announce that this is Google Duplex calling.”

Well, that’s all fine, but let me tell you about this. Remember I did an experiment to see how it worked. I chose 25 people at random for quick meetings so I could ask them what apps they were using and what kinds of tools I could help them find.

I told everyone that I was going to use and artificial intelligence to schedule the meetings. I noted that Amy didn’t exist in every email. Of the 25 appointments, Amy did the job perfectly on 23. On the 24th, they were going back and forth too much, so I stepped in and helped. You can see the correspondence online if you want to go look it up.

The 25th was with a person named Michelle. I don’t know what went on between Michelle and Amy, but something went wrong. Michelle said Amy was driving her crazy with emails. At the end of it, Michelle unsubscribed from my newsletter, and Amy ended my free trial.

But here’s what was interesting: When I met with each of the 24 people, I asked them how it was to work with artificial intelligence to schedule the meeting. At least a third of the people said, “Oh, no. I didn’t use artificial intelligence. Your assistant Amy helped me.”

Now is anyone feeling creeped out? Or is anyone maybe thinking that these are cool apps, but your organization will never let you use these apps?

I have this little caveat. This session may make your IT department mad. Most of these apps you should be able to use on your own, or you will be able to once they’re available everywhere. A lot of them are for personal productivity and for organization, but always check with your IT department and compliance — or even your 12-year-old daughter — before you go crazy and download a whole bunch of stuff.

Now, I could have just told you that, but instead I used an app called Ditty. With Ditty, you put in a sentence and choose a song, and it sings it for you in seconds. So you can sing “Happy Birthday.” You can share with your staff a heartfelt thanks.

Now it’s time for real work to begin. Isn’t it weird how you’ve been at the office three or four hours before you actually sit down to do work? Some of these tools will help you get work done without that much effort.

Anybody have a scanner on your phone? The scanners are awesome and so helpful. If you take a picture of a piece of paper, it looks like a picture of a piece of paper. If you use a scanning app, it takes out humpy bumps. It takes out shadows and kind of straightens it out. It’s not just a picture. Then, as soon as you scan it, you can turn the document into a PDF or JPG and send it off.

Office Lens takes scanning one step further. Office Lens lets you snap a picture, and, within a couple of clicks, you can be in Microsoft Word on your phone, put your finger on the screen and start typing. It uses OCR, optical character recognition, to immediately turn that document into an editable document that you can work on within seconds.

Now it’s time to manage your receipts. How many of you have a pile of wrinkled, faded, coffee-stained receipts crumpled up in the bottom of your purse or desk drawer? Expensify can help. This tool lets you take pictures of your receipts to immediately classify them into categories to help you make expense reports and keep track of expenditures.

Could someone help me with some data collection for a second? I’m keeping track of these answers for some research I am going to publish. OK, please write, “1, 2, 3” and “4.” Perfect.

Question 1 (remember, this is for research): “Do you like me?”

OK, let’s try question 2: “Are you learning something?”

Question 3: “Are you engaged with me?”

OK, let me bring this together for No. 4: “If, during this time when you’ve been listening to someone you like, or at least X percent of you (depending on the first answer results), you’re learning something, and you’re engaged.”

If, during this time, you have looked at your phone or your watch for voicemail, email, social media, if you have touched your phone except for when I told you to during the time when I’ve been standing up here to do something, just stand up. I know there’ll be a couple of hundred of you in a room this size.

You can sit down now.

It’s not that we’re trying to be bad people; it’s that we can’t help ourselves. It’s sad, but this is what we do nowadays, right? We check our phones. No matter what. You can be having a romantic dinner with the person you love most in the world, and your phone is on the table. And if your partner looks at the menu 17 seconds longer than you do, you’re like, “Something’s on fire. Someone needs me. I just have to check.”

Some of you are doing it out of habit and some of you — somebody in this room is really waiting for some news or something to happen. Who is looking down at your phone because you’re really checking something to see if it’s happened? What are you waiting on?

I’m going to give you a tool that will let you rest easy that you know that news is going to come in no matter what.

This tool is called IFTTT. IFTTT means “If This, Then That,” and it’s a multi-app automator. What it does is lets you set up tiny little recipes that run behind the scenes so you don’t have to do all the work and check all the things and make all the things happen. If it’s going to rain tomorrow, send me a text message at 7 a.m. If my favorite sports team makes a touchdown or goal, send me a notification or blink my lights.

Get this! Domino’s Pizza has one. I can set up a recipe that says, “If the pizza guy is on my street, turn on my Philips Hue light bulb to light his way. Then play Barry Manilow on my music that I’ve picked out for this wonderful evening.”

So, what you can do is set up a recipe so that if you get a note regarding this in this text string, then notify me in a different way so that I don’t have to check all the time, and I know I’m not going to miss that.

Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry. I just got this purse, and I forget to turn it off. [visual] “Hello?” It’s a guy saying, “Pretend this is a real phone call and get yourself out of this meeting,” because I pressed a button on my phone or my watch that said, “Get me out of this meeting.” And, thanks to IFTTT, 30 seconds later my phone rings. And you can be like, “Oh, I have to take this. It’s really important. I’ll be back” … never, it turns out.

All right. I will give a copy of my book to the first person who reaches into a wallet or purse and pulls out a piece of paper on which you have written usernames and passwords. Somewhere in here, somebody has a piece of paper, and you hold it up in the air, the first person to hold it up in the air.

Passwords are the scourge of our existence. Yes, they’re one of the toughest things we have to deal with, and few of us are good at them. Here is the rule with passwords. Are you ready? You need a unique username and password for every single site you visit, a unique password that is unguessable for every single site you visit.

What’s the most common password in the world? The word “password” followed very closely by “12345.” If you’re doing something clever like “54321,” they’re on to you, and you need a better system.

So, here you are in the middle of the day, and it is the first crisis of the day. The crisis is that you lose that piece of paper. But, you’re OK because you’re using a password manager. This is the one I use. [visual] It’s called LastPass. LastPass makes you set up a giant password behind which all other passwords will sit.

I can’t tell you how critical this is to get your passwords under control, not only for you but also for your company. You need to make sure that the people in your company are getting your passwords under control. Some of you have great IT departments who manage that kind of thing, and some of you are doing it on your own and trying to keep up. I guarantee you there are holes in your system.

Fantastic. You solved that problem, and it is now time for lunch. During your break, you check in with your son. [video] Does this sound familiar? But you’re not really worried about where your children are because you’re using Life360. Anyone using it?

We don’t like to call Life360 a stalking tool, but that’s essentially what it is. You install the tool on your loved ones’ phones, and it will tell you where they are, where they aren’t, how fast they’re going in the vehicle and even how harshly they’re braking.

Now it’s time for your staff meeting, and to prepare for this meeting, you have to report on some recent trends. You’ve been tracking the results in a spreadsheet, but now you have to analyze the data for the meeting. Where are my Excel spreadsheet experts?

Well, good for you. I don’t even know what a pivot table is. But lucky for all of us, we don’t have to learn advanced Excel tips.

And believe it or not, Microsoft just announced a tool that will let you snap a picture of a chart on a piece of paper, and Microsoft will pull the formatted data directly into Excel, just like it does with Office Lens.

Now it is time in the afternoon for some errands and chores. First, you have to go watch your niece’s 97th softball game. She’s cute and all, but you’re a busy person and can’t drop everything every time to watch the kid go toss balls, right? That’s OK because you can keep track with the GameChanger app. The coaches set up the app, and you can subscribe. You can see what’s going on. You can follow your niece; you can follow other people’s kids who shouldn’t have had as much play time as your niece, and all of those things.

Great! You have saved time because you don’t have to go to the game. But now you have to go run and feed the neighbor’s dog, right? Nope. Your neighbor has a gadget that lets you feed the dog from an app on your phone. All you do is push the right buttons, the food is distributed, and you don’t have to go see the dog.

Then you realize you have to help your son with his math homework. “Mom,” he says, “I think I got these right, but will you check?” Sure you’ll check, right? Here’s how to do it in 2019. Tell the kid to go get a snack, and, when he leaves the room, pull out the Photomath app.

So, we finished all the chores for the day, and now it’s time to volunteer. With an organization as full of leaders as MDRT, I know there are tons of people in here who volunteer. Who in here volunteers for MDRT?

I knew this room was full of leaders. You are leaders by definition. I have to say, I’m honored to be here in front of you. I speak for a lot of audiences, but to speak for you, the top of the top, is the highest honor.

You’re one of the most knowledgeable groups I’ve ever spoken for. And definitely the most successful. And, really, the word “dignified” comes to mind.

When I was working with the education committee in prepping for this session, I wanted to capture the dignity of this organization, so I took a few pictures of your leaders.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are your leaders. [visual]

It took me maybe 10 minutes to take these pictures at the practice run in March. Then I stood in the corner of the room and made the video with Animoto. I chose a theme, chose a song and pressed a button. Bingo. My record is 91 seconds to take a handful of pictures and video clips and turn them into a multimedia video that I can share on social media, in marketing, on my site, wherever.

Now, this one was silly, which I highly recommend, but Animoto has templates to make professional videos that showcase your team, your services, thank your clients, etc. It’s just a fresh way to communicate some of your most important messages.

It is now the end of the day, and what a day it has been! Using technology, you have done alarms and sleep monitoring, maps and directions, notes and scheduling, collaboration, communication, outsourcing, workouts, automation, security, online meetings, shopping and recommendations, and graphics and multimedia.

It’s the end of the evening. You are sitting there watching six, seven episodes of “Big Bang Theory,” finishing up your day.

You’re comfy in your chair, and then the phone rings. It’s the 2020 MDRT Annual Meeting committee, and they said, “Since you’re such a good leader, and you’re so excited about the 2019 conference, could you please help with the speaker nominations for next year?” What an honor!

The committee chair says, “Gosh, I’m so excited. Could you please watch about 10 demo videos tonight to give me your Top 3 recommendations? I mean, I know it’s 9:30 p.m., but would you mind doing that right away because I just can’t sleep. I’m too excited, and I want to get started!”

You listen to her for a second, and then you pull out the most important app that I could ever give you. It’s called Big Box of No. And as you click buttons on Big Box of No, it helps you say “No!”


Beth Zeisenis has been featured on best speaker lists by Meetings & Conventions magazine and MeetingsNet. Since her first Commodore 64 computer, Zeisenis has made a verb out of the word nerd. She helps computer users all over the country filter through thousands of apps and gadgets to find the perfect free and bargain technology tools for business and personal use. Her latest book is “Nerd Know-How: The 27+ Best Apps for Work and How to Use ’Em.”


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