Products I Couldn't Live Without in 2014

Every year around the holidays, my buddy and fellow Patriots fan, Ryan Spoon, compiles a list of his favorite products. I’ve always enjoyed reading his annual post so I’ve decided to follow his lead and curate my own list. Given I review and test hundreds if not thousands of new products each year, I’m fascinated by the ones that create enough value that I come back to over and over again.  These are the apps, tools and gadgets that cut through the clutter and ultimately made my life more productive, happier and healthier in 2014. 

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Improving Human Interaction

While on vacation I decided to finally read the timeless classic by Dale Carnegie, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ The book was first published in 1936 and has sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide. It’s the granddaddy of all people skill books. Many of the lessons contained within are still relevant for anyone that deals with people.  Given Venture Capital is a highly social business with thousands of human touch points each year, this book was probably one of the most important I have ever read. 

We have a saying at RRE that our brand is the sum total of the positive and negative interactions that someone has with our team. Every touchpoint matters regardless of the medium (face to face, email, social media, etc.) and those involved (founders, limited partners, other VCs, etc.). At the most fundamental level, we operate in relationship-driven industry so we’re only as good as the interactions that people have with us (and of course the success of our investments). 

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Nuke Your Twitter Feed In The New Year

One of my 2014 goals is to remove clutter in life and focus on quality. This doesn’t just include physical items like clothing and other random “stuff” but also digital things like the number of apps on my phone or the blogs I actively follow. 

A few weeks ago I realized my Twitter feed was becoming unbearable.  Since 2007 I had followed more than 4,000 individuals, startups, established brands, parody accounts, celebrities and media companies.  The signal to noise ratio had pretty much hit zero. I couldn’t keep up. 

I finally decided to search for a solution that would help me quickly unfollow everyone so I could rebuild my follower list from scratch. The rationale was simple: start over and carefully curate the accounts I follow so my feed would become relevant once again. After all, Twitter is only as good as the people you follow. 

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The Guide to NYC Tech 2.0

At Lerer Ventures I created the first version of The Guide to NYC Tech after dozens of people asked me the same dozen questions, over and over. What are the best co-working spaces? Which lawyer should I hire? Where are good places to take a meeting? Who are the key investors to know? How do I find out about cool events?  

As much as I enjoy helping people one-on-one, I find it far more satisfying when I’m able to develop and share a resource that can be enjoyed by all New Yorkers and those in other tech communities interested in our ecosystem.  

Eighteen months after publishing V1, and just four months into my role at RRE Ventures, I’m pleased to present The Guide to NYC Tech 2.0.  Yes, it’s a guide to NYC Tech; and yes, it’s a bit of a love letter as well. But, I’ll say this: NYC is better poised now than ever before to make a global impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

The goal of this guide is to raise awareness of the NYC tech ecosystem and help newcomers (and veterans) navigate the ever changing landscape.  Additionally, I hope it inspires everyone to give back to their own tech communities on a weekly basis. 

Finally, feedback is greatly appreciated so feel free to email me at schlaf55@gmail.com and I’ll try my best to incorporate your suggestions.