Greetings, friends, and welcome to another Must Read. This week’s coming to you from Barcelona, a city that sleeps less than NYC.
A few weeks back, I mentioned that — after much searching, trialing, and experimenting — the 5forests team has finally settled on a productivity toolkit that has made life much, much easier. I thought today we could delve into practical matters, and I’ll break down for you the apps that we swear by. Here goes:
Where do I even begin? 5forests would not exist were it not for Slack. Slack is a simple-to-adopt communications platform built on the old idea of Internet Relay Chat. Members communicate on topic-specific channels, and within channels, you’ll create posts. From within your posts, you can create simple documents, post links, add images, upload files, and integrate with other popular programs. You can pin posts for easier access, and you can search to located any of the above post types. Slack also allows you to invite guests to individual channels, a feature which is brilliant for working with adjunct teams/team members.
Direct messaging is super smooth, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, Slack has the best video communications you’ll find. They beat out Skype, Facetime, and even Zoom. Even better, Slack calls can run right through your smartphone Slack app, and they will even stream across hands-free car audio systems. Slack’s messaging and audio/video calling is so good that I’ve actually set the family up on Slack for Hammond convos!
My one big recommendation if you’re using Slack for work is invest in the paid plan. The additional benefits and archives are worth every penny. The great thing is, you can use it as long as you want for free while you figure out if it’s the right communication board for you!
Figma, how do we love thee? Figma’s main purpose is as a development prototype app, which means that design teams like our use it to mockup interactive designs for clients. It handles images like a dream, and not only can you easily import vector files (.ai, .eps, .svg), but you can create your own vector artwork within Figma. (The ability to work with vector files solves the common problem of businesses having an .ai, .eps, or .svg version of their logo, but not able to access it with non-designy programs.) But Figma’s following — and dedication to that following — have built it into a design powerhouse for everyday business uses like creating consistent social media post images (bye bye Canva), presentations/slides (so long Powerpoint), branded publications, brand guidelines, etc. Now, with the recent rollout of plugins, Figma has really started to become a category killer for many expensive design programs…and it’s cheap as chips. Figma’s Free version works just as well as the paid version, with most wineries we work with never needing the paid features, and you can stay on the free plan for as long as you want. This means that you get access to many of the benefits of expensive apps such as Adobe Suite, without any of that cost. Figma rocks.
Dropbox — the paid kind
Recently, Dropbox has come under fire for some of their updates, but a paid Dropbox plan is still one of our top investments in productivity. Too many times have we dealt with clients who struggle with version control or productivity because someone’s Dropbox folder was full. I know, it’s tempting to say, “just use google drive” but Google drive is a super pain in the ass with absolutely horrible user interface. Dropbox, despite its problems, is still the best shared file service you can find. With so many jobs to be done across so few people, no winery needs to be wasting time trying to keep track of which version someone has last received by email, or whose login needs to be used to access an important piece of data….not to mention folders full of tasting notes, bottle shots, and winery images that need to be shared with media and support teams.
This one was a huge 2019 win for us. We’ve tried damn near every project management app on the market and we never had one that we liked AND we liked paying for. Until we stumbled upon Teamweek. We needed something cheapish, shareable, easy to adopt, that included gannt charts (timelines). We’re using the Free plan, and we are able to layout our project timelines with ease, assigning tasks to team members, creating deadlines, milestones, and to do lists; plus, you can upload files to projects, and even estimate how many hours per day the task should take. We even include all my crazy travel days, so that we can plan my communications and administrative work around where I am at the time! And did I mention, it’s free? Awesome.
Last but not least, Notion is the most recent addition and it’s a personal recommendation. The team doesn’t use it yet, but I’m sure I’ll drag them all into it soon enough. Notion is for everyone who misses Evernote (fyi, I was never an Evernote user, so I can’t answer any questions about how they stack up). For me, it’s helped keep my brain organized despite fast growth and many miles traveled. But to explain why I love Notion, I need to back up a little bit. At 5forests, we consume A LOT of content, because we have to stay abreast of what’s happening in tech, design, development, but also all the wine business side of things, from data, to consumer trends, to forecasting and financials. And then, often, we need to be able to refer back to all this information when we write (newsletters) or speak to customers or crowds. Years back, I fell in love with Ryan Holiday’s notecard system, but as we’ve gotten busier, I found the analog nature of the index cards was creating problems. I would be in a different country and my cards would be in New Zealand.
I had heard about Notion from other tech teams, who hooked me up with this article, that segued into this article. I was sold. I’m still not always 100% in line with this methodology (it takes some retraining), but this has become a lifesaver for my brain. I’m on a free plan and I use it to keep track of articles, posts, people, and yes, even my honey-do list. The prebuilt templates save time, the apps works across all devices (so I can pin and link from anywhere) and, I won’t lie, I like how the app looks and feels.
So, if you’re looking for programs to help your wine marketing team work faster, smarter, happier, here are a few for you to play with this week. I’ll be back next week, and in the meantime, I’ll be working on your projects from El Born.
Go forward and be awesome.