Three Startups that help you get outside

  Do you love exploring and getting outside, and do you like sharing your passion with other people? Or have you always wanted to do something adventurous, if only you had other people to go with?  I was the latter until I moved down to LA and met some amazing people who took me under their wing and took me outside.  I wouldn’t be snowboarding, rock climbing, or hiking if it wasn’t for some truly amazing friends who taught me how to tie my snowboarding boots, to pull on plastic, and to glissade down from a 12,000′ peak in a trash bag.  These are powerful memories, and I absolutely love helping people get outside.  But until recently, your options for finding adventure buddies were all over the place: you could go to a sport-specific meetup, browse online forums, or go post your name on a bulletin board at a local specialty shop.  Pretty intimidating if you’ve never done this kind of stuff before!

  Luckily, 2014 has brought some new services that might inspire you to make that leap:

1. ADVENTURE.COM (HTTP://ADVENTURE.COM/)

    How was this domain name not taken already?  Adventure.com provides beautifully curated stories to inspire folks to get outside, but primarily offers adventure travel and guide services.  The site is just getting off the ground, but the growth potential for the adventure/guide services is cool – think of it as a AirBNB for travel and adventure, where you have an option to go with a pro service or stay with a local!  Really could have used a guide in Costa Rica, instead of going there and trying to use my rudimentary Spanish to get from the airport to the mountains.  Downside? They made a great video (above) but the rest of their content is pretty light right now.

2.  OUTDOOR PROJECT (HTTP://WWW.OUTDOORPROJECT.COM/)

   Information, information, information!  Outdoor Project is a one-stop shop to inspire you with trip ideas and to help you plan your next trip…and it’s the most well-designed and functional site out there.  You can get camping fees, driving directions, trip reports, hike duration, permit requirements…everything you need, all in one place, and right up front.  You can add things to a ‘to-do’ list, get detailed maps…the list of features go on and are incredibly useful.  They also add instructional/educational videos – because knowledge is power!

3.  GOCIETY (HTTP://GOCIETY.COM/)

   A startup based out of Denver that describes itself as  “a social network for people who love the outdoors.”  Basically, it’s a way to find adventure buddies!  It’s been successful in building a community in Denver and Salt Lake City, and recently hired a community manager for Seattle.  The advantage of doing this instead of a Meetup is that you don’t have to join a bunch of different Meetup groups for all your activities, you can just see what events are going on and join up (or start your own).  As much as I like Meetup, this is more specific to me and I love the spontaneity.  

2 must-have apps to keep track of your assignments

  It’s been three weeks into the MBA program and I am super glad that I spend the time early on to organize my assignments schedule.  I first started with an excel spreadsheet (you can see it here in my guide), but I wanted it easily accessible on my iPhone.  I know some of my classmates went ahead and printed it out (awesome idea!) but we have to be a little more flexible as we found out more about our assignments and some dates got moved around.  

  I know that managing your time is really tough to do once you’re extremely busy, but it’s not too late!  Keeping track of all your assignments in your head is a recipe for failure, and you won’t be able to contribute 100% of your mental energy and passion if you’re constantly trying to remember everything you gotta do in and outside of school/work.  

  So here are my must-have apps that I absolutely can’t live without right now:

1. Sunrise

  I’ve talked about Sunrise before, but since then it’s just gotten better and better.  No other calendar looks as good across all my devices, and it works with every shared calendar you could possibly have.  It works with productivity tools like Asana, Producteev, Evernote todo lists, and Todoist.  It also syncs with your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts so if you have a meeting with someone, you’ll see their info if you’re connected to each other.  And finally, it’s connected to Google Maps so you can enter in locations and get directions for all your meetings!

2.  Todoist

  I’ve tried to make to-do lists in the past using Evernote, Asana, Wunderlist, Google Tasks, and good ol’ pen and paper.  None of them stuck with me because they weren’t convenient to use and set up, or just plain annoyed me (Asana, do I really have to manually assign everything to myself and then you have to email me every day on overdue tasks?).  Then I found Todoist, which syncs up wonderfully with Sunrise.  It’s just an elegant, basic to-do list that works across all your devices (included web), costs nothing, and is effortless to set up.  You can add a task, set a due date in 3-5 seconds, or you can ‘snooze’ on tasks (one touch pushes the task a day or a week!).

  Here’s a screenshot of how I use it (web view):

Todoist
Todoist

And here’s how it looks in Sunrise!

Pretty light schedule!
Pretty light schedule!

Setting up Canvas on your mobile phone

Did you know that UW’s Canvas app can be used on your Android or iPhone?  I personally prefer using my phone for staying up to date on assignments, course announcements, and even reading course materials.  I couldn’t find this anywhere on the UW Canvas site, so here’s some instructions below for my fellow Foster MBA students:

1. Download the Canvas (by Infrastructure) app for Android or iPhone.

2. When it asks you for your school, type either: “University of Washington” or “Canvas.uw.edu”

Enter either “canvas.uw.edu” or “University of Washington”

3. Login with your UW NetID and password, and then it’ll ask you if you want to allow Canvas to access your UW account.  Hit yes!

Login with your UW NetID and password
Login with your UW NetID and password

4.  Enjoy!

Mindly: A brainstorming and mind-mapping app (and why I love it)

Just a small portion of my crazy thoughts and ideas, captured via the Mind.ly app!
Just a small portion of my crazy thoughts and ideas, captured via the Mind.ly app!

  How do you keep track of all your ideas and inspiration?  How do you get (and stay) organized?  As an incoming MBA student, there are just so many options and paths to consider in the next two years.  How do I keep track of all the clubs I want to join, extracurricular activities I want to participate in, applied strategy/consulting projects I’d like to do, internships I’m pursuing, conferences I’m attending, and so on?  My day-to-day schedules and cloud services are pretty locked in, but when it comes to ideas and thoughts, I’m all over the place!  

  Thankfully, there’s a brand new (and FREE) app called Mindly out there that is exactly what I’m looking for:  a beautifully designed, highly visual app that captures my random thoughts and concerns.  It’s easy to use, easy to set up, easy to update.  The free version allows you export your mind map in PDF or share with another Mindly user, but if you go for premium (I didn’t) you can export the map as text, OPML, or HTML too.

The downside?  Only available on iOS, and my tiny iPhone 4 screen isn’t great at showing the whole map.  It’s plenty fine, though:

iOS screenshot of Mindly in action
iOS screenshot of Mindly in action

What is it:  A visual brainstorming and mind-mapping app for iOS

What it replaces:  A combination of scratch paper, sticky notes, a moleskin notebook, Evernote, to-do lists, website bookmarks, and a significant portion of my working memory

3 Productivity Apps I’m loving right now

One week until the Foster MBA program starts!  I’ve spent the last several months trying out different productivity apps and websites to try to find stuff that’s 1) useful and 2) so easy to use that it won’t take a lot of time to maintain.  Note: I use Mac, PC, and iOS devices.

Here’s what I’m using, and why:

Sunrise
Sunrise

1) Sunrise – I used to use Google Calendars for everything because I liked how easy it was to add new appointments (click and drag!) and color code them on both PC and Mac.   I synced my google calendar to iCal so I could keep up with my appointments on my iPhone.  I live and die with my calendar – it’s home to my to do lists, itineraries, and directions to where I need to be at any moment.  Plus, it’s one of the few things that Siri can actually read to you in a useful manner.  The problem with Google Calendars and iCal was that they weren’t really great on the iPhone.  I want to see something more visually appealing and clean like the google calendar 5-day/week view rather than the silly dots + list view of iCal.  So I found Sunrise.

On mobile, Sunrise allows you to seamlessly swap between a 3-day view of your calendar and a longer month + agenda view.  I use the 3-day view as my go-to daily planner.  I’m diligent about locations for events and such, so if you need directions to your next appointment, just open up Sunrise, tap the event, and tap the location and boom – directions via google maps to where you need to go.   On the desktop, I use it as a google chrome app and it looks like google calendar.  I still use my color coding system, but Sunrise will also read the event title and automatically categorize it with an icon.  Sunrise also can sync up with TripIt, Asana, Producteev, and a host of other apps to make your life easier.  It seamlessly syncs up with google calendar and facebook too…so if you’re invited to an event, you can see it, accept it, and see it in Sunrise.  Easily the best calendar/scheduling app out there today.

2) Evernote – I used to use Google Drive a lot to archive my files and notes – until it stopped being useful on my iPhone.   It just wasn’t convenient to use on mobile because it eats up a lot of space (it downloads files to your phone…gigabytes worth of stuff while you’re not looking), it was painfully slow, and not great at viewing content.  I finally switched to Evernote and now I use it for a ton of stuff…think of any information that you’d like to save and have on hand at a moment’s notice: blog ideas, to-do lists, websites/articles to read later, membership cards, etc.  You can drop PDFs, word docs, gifs, movies, websites, and all sorts of content in there, either just with a drag and drop interface through the app or using a chrome extension like Evernote Web Clipper.  It’s fast, it’s easy, and great on Mac, PC, and iOS.  Oh yeah, it also can sync up with Sunrise.  Bonus!

3) Dropbox – I used to use Google Drive to upload my iPhone photos to the cloud for sharing, but it was extremely slow and painful.  Every time my phone went on standby, it would stop uploading so you had to sit there with your phone and watch the files get uploaded.  Also, the iOS Google Drive app would download every file onto your device…so when I uploaded a photo from my iPhone to Google Drive, it would make a duplicate on my iPhone’s drive.  Imagine all your photo albums taking up twice the amount of space on your poor, low-end iPhone.  Now Dropbox automatically uploads my recent iPhone photos when I have a wi-fi connection and I can access it on all my devices.  It’s also really, really fast.