Ten cool tools I can’t live without

Updated to Business on December 14, 2022.

I was in a car the other day with a radiologist and a neurosurgeon talking about hypertension. 

This conversation is actually not as unusual as it might sound. I volunteer for a local society that does trail clearing in a popular hiking and mountain bike park and many of the volunteers happen to be recently retired doctors. 

Back in the car, one of the doctors happened to mention that recently his medical partner, who is in his early 60’s, had a mild stroke. As we wound our way further up the dirt road to our work site my education continued. 

I learned that strokes are the second biggest cause of mortality worldwide and the third most common cause of disability. The scary statistics get worse. As you age your chance of a stroke doubles every 10 years after 55

There’s a checklist of health conditions that make you more susceptible to a stroke, like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the biggest culprit – six times out of ten – is hypertension or high blood pressure. In my books, that’s worth paying attention to.

What’s interesting is that stress, in itself, is not the direct cause of high blood pressure. It’s what we do when under stress that leads to nasty results. We eat too much, drink too much, and move too little. Basically, we deal with stress by making unhealthy choices.

For me, stress starts with worry.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

I’ve had a lot of worries

There is a world of problems you can worry about – take your pick. You can worry that Ukraine will be pummeled into a tiny province of rubble, or that we’ve passed the tipping point with global warming, or the tiny spot on your chin is cancer. 

Or not.

“I’ve had a lot of worries,” quipped Mark Twain “most of which never happened.” Our mind loves a good worry. Like a dog chewing a bone, we want to turn our worry around, looking from all angles, poking and prodding until it swells up into something bigger than it really is.

I used to worry incessantly before every keynote speech. I’d worry I’d miss my flight or wasn’t prepared enough, or I would be greeted by the “audience from hell.” Trust me, when you have 60 minutes to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, and get laughs from an audience you’ve never met before, any sane person would invent a long list of worries.

It was at one of those events when a fellow speaker opened an exit door for my worries. He suggested that audiences don’t want you to fail – in fact, they want you to succeed. “They want to see you having fun—enjoying yourself. That way,” he explained, “they can enjoy the ride with you.”

When I accepted the long list of what I could never control – my flights, the audience, the speaker before me going overtime – I was free to focus on what I could control.

Enjoying the moment. 

What your life will have been

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön tells the story of delighting in the preciousness of every single moment.

A woman is running from lions. She runs and she runs, and the lions are getting closer. She comes to the edge of a cliff. She sees a vine there, so she climbs down and holds onto it. Then she looks down and sees that there are lions below her as well. At the same time, she notices a little mouse gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries emerging from a nearby clump of grass. She looks up, she looks down, and she looks a the mouse. Then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Learning what to focus on, and what to ignore, seems to be the ultimate secret to living a healthy, stress-free life. “Whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks (a must-read for anyone over 50), “is simply what your life will have been.”

So, what are you focussing on?

What to focus on

You can learn a lot when you’re the dumbest one in a car full of doctors. I learned that strokes are a silent pandemic. And that hypertension is the leading cause of that pandemic. And I learned the leading cause of hypertension is stress. 

I was also reminded that stress is a choice.

We all have lions and tigers in our life. Maybe even a mouse or two gnawing away at something we value. Meanwhile, we have the moment.

Choosing what to focus on (and what not to) might just be the healthiest choice you can make.

Got this far? You might also like these posts:

Photo of eggs by Nik on Unsplash
Photo of Ngoc Son Temple by author
Photo of tigers by author

There is a danger out there what we need to be wary of. It’s called the bright shiny object.

You listen to a podcast on your morning run and they mention some cool app, or plug-in, or software that is amazing, super cool, faster, or bakes pies. You have to have it. “That’s it!” you say to yourself as you head to Google, “That will really help me.”

Five hours later you figured out (sort of) how this latest piece of software created by two twenty-somethings in Silicon Valley works. And you are no further ahead.

On the other hand, there are some tools that are brilliant, easy to master, and I swear by. Here are ten of them.


Dropbox_logo Dropbox – don’t pass GO, get set up on Dropbox (2GB free) and move all your files into the cloud. You are always backed up and can easily share huge picture or video files with clients, or when client buy your CD or DVD bundles.
1password 1Password – never lose a password again, retrieve your passport #, frequent flyer #, put the add-on in your browser and have those annoying (like ours!) shopping cart forms filled in with one click. For PC’s you can use Roboform.
logo_mindmeister MindMeister – perfect for creating that new speech outline or organizing your notes for the next blog. It saves as you go (in the cloud) and is really intuitive. You can even share with a friend and they can insert that perfect quote you need.
evernote-logo-design Evernote – essential for anyone that has a life. Sync with your phone and capture ideas, lists, web pages, handwritten notes (it can read your handwriting!). A quick pic of your hand written scribbles, add a title and a tag and drop the paper in recycling. It’s indispensable. I even store favourite recipes (and look like a hero at dinner time). 
mail chimp Mail Chimp – a great way to start to organize your list(s) and get email campaigns going. Super user friendly, it “talks” with WordPress (to collect your opt-ins) and nicely handles auto responder sequences. Have less than 2,000 people on your list? It’s free! 
img_screenflow-2 ScreenFlow – brilliant! I recorded my first video in about 30 minutes with no training. It’s simple, fast, and intuitive – what’s not to like? Record your voice and slides, add some simple edits after, export and presto you have a training video. Best $100 I’ve spent in a long time! Camtasia is the alternative for PC’s 
easycrop EasyCrop – super simple way to crop or resize your pictures (for Mac’s). Just drag your picture into the left-hand screen, drag over the part you want, resize in the right-hand box, and drag your new picture out to where you want it. I use this great little tool at least once a day (plus it’s free).  
hootsuite Hootsuite – the grandaddy of management tools for your social media. At it’s basic level, use it to organize all the incoming news and schedule your outgoing news. I use it when I have blogs and podcasts scheduled and want to send out announcements on exactly that day (whereas Bufferapp sends out my news based on what’s in the hopper.)
buffer-app Bufferapp – the slickest way I know to keep a hopper full of tweets, status updates, and LinkedIn posts. Works like a Pez Dispenser, just keep filling it up and it keeps your news coming out. You set the time your updates come out everyday and then get to work filling it up. It’s free.

Let me know in the comments what are the tools you can’t live without.

Please note that some of these suggested products are affiliates and we receive a small commission if you choose to use the link provided. Thanks