True story: Every time I speak with Victor J. Medina, a New Jersey-based estate planning attorney friend of mine, he gets me fired up with his passion for good technology… and then I spend a thousand dollars on a new device.
Consequently, as the holiday season approaches, I feel I must pay it forward. My recommendation list this year is borne out of things that have truly added value to my life. I really think they could be beneficial for you and your loved ones, too.
I ranked this list in order of most to least expensive so that by the time you get down to the cheap stuff, those items seem really affordable.
1. MacBook Pro: $2,799
The MacBook Pro is my primary work machine. I love it. It may boast more power than I actually require, but it’s fun to own the Ferrari of laptops. The form factor is elegant, and I’ve found that the Touch Bar—the little strip atop the keyboard—is very helpful. Initially, I was resistant to it because of the USB-C only connectors, but with a $70 adapter, I’ve made it work with no sacrifice.
2. Surface Laptop: $799
I’m operating system agnostic, and I love the resurgence of Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella. If you’re largely using cloud tools such as Office 365, Google Drive, or Rocket Matter, who says you can’t use both Mac and PC? The Surface Laptop is an incredible machine for most office applications, has a beautiful form factor, and has a battery that could make the Energizer bunny’s head spin. This is my default travel machine since it’s lightweight and can go 10 hours per charge.
3. Fender Stratocaster: $674.99
Why is a guitar on a technology list? It’s time to put down the screens and pick up a hobby, which apparently does wonders for us. They stave off mental deterioration and they give us an activity outside of work and obsessively checking the news and social media. So why not join me and take guitar lessons? I started playing the guitar this year (again). And there’s no better way to get your interest in the guitar going than to buy a Fender Stratocaster, the classic beauty that begs to be played. Pick up one of these babies, and just try to put it down.
4. Fitbit Ionic: $269.95
Anyone that follows me or Rocket Matter knows that I’m a health and wellness junkie as well as a technophile. Consequently, I’m nuts about fitness trackers. I’ve tried a bunch of them, and the Fitbit Ionic is the best I’ve ever owned. Unlike the Apple Watch, the Ionic lasts four days per charge. It has GPS built in. You can swim, run, lift weights, and walk with it, and it’s easy to swap the plastic default bands with leather ones to dress it up for classy occasions.
5. Echo Show: $229
I bought three of these—one for a remote employee named Jeff who lives in North Carolina, one for my home office, and one for our HQ office. I call it the “Jeff Machine,” because I say to it, “Echo, call Jeff,” and Jeff appears on the screen via video conference. I’d rather not use my computer for this purpose, as having the device on my desk facilitates a quick visit. But I also use the Echo to play music while I work, schedule appointments, review my calendar, listen to my “morning briefing,” and call people on speakerphone.
6. Timbuk2 Robin Pack: $179.00
For the uninitiated, Timbuk2 makes some of the coolest, hippest laptop bags around. This dressed-up version is perfect for the legal professional, combining sleek lines with a refined elegance. I’ve used Timbuk2 products before and be forewarned—people will ask you questions about your backpack!
If you want small, wireless headphones with deep, rich sound that won’t fall out of your ears, get these puppies. The Jabra Elite Actives block out most ambient sound, which makes them wonderful for aircraft travel (provided you don’t accidentally drop one underneath your seat). I’ve run with these things both on the treadmill and outside, and with all that jostling they stay firmly in place.
8. One Year of Blinkist: $79.99
I love reading, but the number of business books I need to get through could give the biggest bibliophile pause. With the exception of The Lean Law Firm, the ABA bestseller discussed below that I believe should be on every lawyer’s shelf, many ideas from business books can be distilled into a handful of pages. Blinkist does just that, supplying both written and spoken executive summaries on thousands of books. It’s available on mobile devices.
9. The Lean Law Firm: $49.99 (ABA Section Member Pricing)
The Lean Law Firm is the ABA’s smash bestseller written by an anonymous pair of unnamed law firm business savants. Actually, shameless plug, my co-author Dave Maxfield and I wrote this book to clearly lay out Lean principles for lawyers. (Lean originated at Toyota and is used by the world’s most efficient and profitable businesses.) To keep the business talk entertaining, we wove a graphic novel narrative into each chapter. I recommend purchasing copies for your referral network, your friends and family, and everyone at the local chamber of commerce.
10. Super Cool Business Card Holders: $13-$26
If you’re going to have a classy business card, don’t whip a stained and wrinkled one out of your wallet. Instead, have a cool case to keep your cards looking sharp. Etsy is a great place for this. I bought one myself that has a 50’s sci-fi movie poster on it with a cool rocket, which is a conversation piece and speaks to my brand.
11. A Gentleman in Moscow: $18.99
And finally, an escape from all things digital. I spend a great deal of time reading excellent books and A Gentleman in Moscow, released in 2016, was my top read of 2018 and one of my favorite books of all time. This holiday season, curl up with Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov and surround yourself with imaginative characters, a witty look at old-school chivalry, and a complete antidote to the antagonistic times we find ourselves in.