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Things I Carry

In the spirit of the LinkedIn series, Things I Carry, I have created my list of the things that I carry. I am a frequent traveler and have well over 1 million miles of air, car, train, and bus travel over the past 10 years, and I’ve learned to travel as lean as possible.  These are the things I carry:

  • Family
  • Assistant
  • ThinkPad
  • Voice recorder
  • Ebook Reader


I will wax sentimental here and tell you that I carry my family in my heart, and this is the most important thing that I carry. I could not do what I do as effectively as I could without the unwavering support and love from my wife and children.  Because of this support, I am more balanced, driven, focused, and grounded than I ever was as a free agent. This is sincere, honest, and true.


After reading Richard Branson’s article about his assistant, I have to agree completely: give me a brilliant assistant. I cannot carry Taby with me in a literal sense, as she is a couple of thousand miles away, but she is almost always just a ping away.  She always goes above and beyond the call of duty. She is, as Seth Godin would say, a Linchpin.  She helps me the most by keeping my workstreams clear of debris, meaning the smaller tasks that pop into my head that would otherwise distract me from my work, but that still need to be done.  She also anticipates needs and is invaluable in this organization.  She is the type of person who can ‘take a message to Garcia‘, if asked.


I travel every week, so my laptop is essential.  I use Lenovo ThinkPads exclusively, the T-series. I currently use the T410s, which is powerful and lightweight, though with horrible battery life.  We use ThinkPad’s because of the outstanding keyboards, excellent warranty, and durability.  They are a little more expensive than some other laptops, but I consider the long term value:

  • The laptops are in full-time service for 4 years, and last much longer than that. Of the 5 ThinkPads we have purchased in the last 10 years, 4 of them are still in service, 3 of them in full-time service.
  • Their reliability is unsurpassed.  How much money have I really saved if I lose a day’s worth of billable work sitting without a laptop when a cheaper laptop dies while I’m on the road? Answer: none, I’ve lost money.
Philips Voice Tracer Digital Voice Recorder
‘Big Idea’ Catcher

Digital Voice Recorder

In the 1982 comedy Night Shift , Michael Keaton’s main character carried around a voice recorder so that he would never miss an idea, particularly the one BIG idea.  That concept always stuck with me and I wanted a personal voice recorder ever since.  I bought a Philips voice recorder last year, similar to the one pictured above, and now I always travel with it.  Ideas are fleeting things and sometimes lost, never to return.  I can turn it on and record while driving, without being distracted.  This is my big idea catcher when I travel and it has proven to be an invaluable tool.

Ebook Reader

I sadly neglected my business reading after graduating from business school, but I made a commitment two years ago to catch up.  My Kobo e-book reader is essential in this quest.  I have an incredibly large number of books in my reading queue and this is perfect for most of the reading that I do. Even if I only squeeze 5 minutes of reading in here or there, I’m finally reading my way through a digital stack of books. It is lightweight, easy on the eyes, and holds as many books as an SD card can store. I am generally reading three books at once, so this makes it very easy.

What about a smartphone or tablet?  Although my smartphone is very useful, I can do without it in most situations.  I cannot effectively use it while driving or flying. I accidentally left my phone at home a couple of weeks ago and I barely missed it. It was actually quite liberating.  I was able to use Skype to do any texting and phone calls that I needed to make.  I am nearly always wired at a desk, so the mobility is not as essential.  As far as tablets are concerned, I can be twice as productive on my laptop than I can on my tablet, though it does have it’s uses.  I have found that it is okay and essential to be disconnected at times.

What are the things that you carry or cannot work without?