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Start of Interview with Sierra Modro

Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Sierra Modro to the show. I think you’ll find this interview interesting as she is a technology expert, self-described technology geek and she talks about how people can implement technology in their businesses and really get the use out of it and conducts techno audits as well and she’s a speaker and an author, media personality, and blogger. And let’s just kind of dive right into it. Sierra comes to us today from Portland, Oregon. How are you, Sierra?

Sierra Modro: Hi, Jason. I’m doing great today, thanks.

Jason Hartman: Well, good, good. So tell us a little bit about techno audits and what it is you do.

Sierra Modro: Sure. Technology audits, shortened to techno audits, are really a way of evaluating the way you’re using technology in your business as relates to your business goals. Too often companies look at a technology solution without really evaluating how that technology solution is gonna help them to further their ultimate business goals.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, I think that’s kind of the bright shiny object trap, isn’t it? You know, we all look at these new great gadgets and devices that come out and think, oh gosh, I better get that, I better get that, and the prices of them are really so low nowadays in terms of dollar cost. But maybe, and you might address this later in our discussion, there’s a lot of time cost that can go into it.

Sierra Modro: There is. You’re right, there is that bright, shiny object idea. And often times you’ll see the object and you’ll think, ooh, this can solve a problem or, even worse, you’ll see the promotional video from the company selling the product and think “Oh, they’ve done just exactly what I need to do – I’m gonna get that and it’ll solve all my problems” without thinking about what the time commitment’s gonna be to implement the new technology or how that technology is really going to play with everything else that you’ve already got. So a lot of times there’s more to it than just buying that new thing and that magically solving all of your problems that you have in your business.

Jason Hartman: Absolutely agree. Well, give us some examples of how one should tie technology to a business goal.

Sierra Modro: Well, when I conduct a technology audit, the first thing that I always try to do with the businessperson is talk about the business goals. So, for instance, if you’re a small business, solopreneur, a small business person, chances are you’ll have goals that are related to increasing your income over the next year by a certain percentage. So as you’re looking at your technology use, what can you do or how can you use technology in a way that will help you to increase your revenue stream? So, looking at it from that standpoint as opposed to saying what technology is out there, look at it and say I have a business need and these are the business goals that I have. How can technology support that? So looking at it first from the business side instead of looking at it from the technology side, I just worked with a company who had a need to get the finances in order. That was a definite business meeting. I mean it was a startup, they’d only been in business for a few months, but they really didn’t have an accounting solution. They had a shoebox. And what I did with them was work through what their needs were from the accounting standpoint and then we evaluated all of the ways that they could do accounting. Yes, technology ended up providing the best, fastest, cheapest solution, but really we were looking at it from the business side, not the, okay, what programs are out there?

Jason Hartman: Yeah, makes sense. So naturally, in that kind of world, people just all into oh let’s buy QuickBooks and it may not be the right fit necessarily.

Sierra Modro: Yes. And actually this particular company already had a copy of QuickBooks, ironically, but they ended up not using that copy of QuickBooks because the two founding members needed a cloud-based solution. They both needed to be able to access the finances, put in invoices, draw out money. So it was far easier for them to use a cloud-based solution than it was to try to shoehorn some way to make a desktop accounting software package actually work for their business needs.

Jason Hartman: And one of the things you do, by the way, is a dormant asset evaluation, right?

Sierra Modro: Yes, because a lot of times your past is catching up with you. You already bought technology that you’re not using affectively. I think for a lot of people right now the classic case would be the iPad. Apple has been phenomenally successful at selling iPads to people and it’s a great tool. I love my iPad. But people aren’t using them to support their business needs. They’re using them to read email and browse the internet, both of which are worthy activities but there’s so much more that you could be using an iPad for. So that’s a case where I look at the assets that you have on hand, your talent, your training and your technology, the 3 Ts, and then look at how we can use those existing assets to meet your business needs.

Jason Hartman: Do you have any technologies that you recommend for businesses? And I assume you deal with not just hardware but you deal with services and cloud-based things like various websites that can be useful. And of course these are generic – it depends on the business – because one of the things you do is you tell people not to spend money or not to do this, you tell people not to do a lot of things because it doesn’t match with their goals. But there are some general things that are sort of helpful to almost every business. Some that I can think of offhand would be like Dropbox, GoToMyPC. These types of services are widely used and applied to a lot of things, GoToMeeting, some different services like that. And I know Citrix, the GoToMeeting people, are out with a new service. I can’t remember the name of it right now but one of the big things that sort of a few years ago – it was a lot of these coordination websites and project management websites like base camp and now Citrix has one – forgive me, I just don’t remember the name of it.

Sierra Modro: Yeah, there are a lot of cloud-based solutions out there and available. And when it comes time to look at solutions that I tend to go to a lot, yes, I definitely use Dropbox and I recommend Dropbox to a lot of people because there’s that need to share information. The other area that I end up setting up a lot of people is actually using Google Apps. The Google Apps solution, which sadly is no longer free but is still of very minimal cost, is something…

Jason Hartman: Is that $50 a year per user?

Sierra Modro: Yes, $50 a year per user.

Jason Hartman: I didn’t know that it was not free. We have the paid version that we use in my company which has some enhanced features like phone support, but I thought you could still use it for free. No, it’s gone?

Sierra Modro: No. It was a sad, sad day for me because I had set up so many people using the Google Apps free version, but as of the beginning of the year they no longer have the free version available unless you are a qualified nonprofit or educational facility which is not most people. But it’s still a very inexpensive solution in the grand scheme of things, particularly when you look at what you get. I mean the obvious is Gmail, the capability of having a very easy to use email solution. But you also get access to the Google apps, their versions of Word Excel to use the popular terminology. But you get Google Drive, you get Google Voice. There’s a whole suite of applications that come along for the ride when you sign up with Google Apps.

Jason Hartman: Right, right. And I like all of those. I use them all the time. I really wish Google Voice was a little more intuitive. It seems like they’re so close to having a really good thing there but they’re just not there yet honestly.

Sierra Modro: Yes.

Jason Hartman: And same with Skype.

Sierra Modro: Yeah, there’s a reason Skype’s still the leader in that area.

Jason Hartman: Well, yeah. But Skype, I don’t know. This is just my person anecdotal opinion but it seems like ever since Microsoft bought Skype, it’s been problematic. I don’t know, I could be wrong but just my personal experience.

Sierra Modro: Yeah, so Google is another suite of applications really that I recommend on a regular basis. So Google, Dropbox certainly. I’ve been using Meeting Burner as an alternative online meeting solution. GoToMeeting is the classic but Meeting Burner provides some interesting alternative options.

Jason Hartman: And it’s free, right? Meeting Burner’s free?

Sierra Modro: Yes, there is a free version of Meeting Burner.

Jason Hartman: Any particular features you like about it? Does it have more features? It says “Host up to 10 meeting attendees for free with no ads forever” and more than 50,000 people use it.

Sierra Modro: There’s no installation.

Jason Hartman: Oh yeah. And that’s with GoToMeeting, you’ve got to always install that little app.

Sierra Modro: Yeah. So with Meeting Burner, there’s no installation – nothing that you have to do to install on your computer. They make it easy to use across a variety of devices. For the novice meeting person, both the person hosting attending, if you’re a novice it’s very streamlined and straightforward. And so it makes it easier for you to host a meeting with people who maybe don’t generally call into webinars that it’s very straightforward that way. I like the idea of being able to gauge the meeting temperature, so this concept of are people really agreeing with what you’re saying or for that matter listening.

Jason Hartman: How do you do that?

Sierra Modro: They have literally a meeting temperature gauge. So, as you’re talking along you can tell people what the meeting temperature is, what the gauge is for, and then it’s sort of a way to provide virtual applause. Yes, I really agree with that. Ooh, no, that’s not so good.

Jason Hartman: What, are they clicking on buttons to do that?

Sierra Modro: Yeah, there’s a slide rule sort of thing that goes left to right and it’s literally hot and cold, although you can customize the features to be good, bad, applause, booze, you can customize it just about any way you like. So it’s another alternative that I like. Another technology solution that I’ve actually been recommending to a lot of people recently has been the swivel which is a hardware device that attaches to your smartphone. It works particularly well with iPhones and iPod Touch that turns your iPhone into a credible video recorder. It’s a two-part solution. It’s a larger device that your phone mounts into and runs a small free application that allows you to take video through your phone but the cool part is that it attaches to what they call a marker that you have on your person that includes a microphone, a digital microphone. So you actually get really nice, quality sound out of the video which has always been the drawback for most of the iPhone videos in the past has been the sound quality.

Jason Hartman: And that microphone, is that a motion tracking device?

Sierra Modro: It is also a motion tracking advice. The microphone has two purposes. It has the audio microphone and then, as you move around, the Swivl swivels and follows you as you move around/across a stage or while you’re doing a presentation and that really gives you the flexibility to have, as they call it, your own personal cameraman.

Jason Hartman: That is amazing. Wow, what a neat device. But I guess that’s not out yet, right?

Sierra Modro: No, it is out.

Jason Hartman: I see it on Mac Rumors but I don’t see it on Amazon.

Sierra Modro: You have to buy it currently through Swivl itself, Swivl.com.

Jason Hartman: They always have to have new ways to spell things nowadays because every word in the English language practically is taken. I think that little tip right there could be incredibly valuable to so many listeners because we’ve got so many speakers listening, podcasters, anybody in business for themselves wants to make videos that aren’t incredibly boring and they want to make them when the inspiration arises, not set up a cameraman and we’re gonna do this shoot this day and we gotta coordinate all this stuff. If it’s 1 in the morning and someone’s got the inspiration and they want to do a little video, heck, they can do it. This is a great little gadget.

Sierra Modro: And that’s the key really is the spontaneous videos. And those I think are – just when you’re looking at YouTube and you’re watching videos – the spontaneous videos I think are the ones that show the most passion, they’re the ones that tend to show joy and really get that kind of audience engagement that you want most out of the videos that you’re doing.

Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Good, good advice. What else do you like?

Sierra Modro: Let’s see. Dropbox, Google, Swivl, I actually really – despite what I was saying earlier – I really like the iPad a lot. And the reason that I like the iPad is there’s a lot of flexibility there that people aren’t exploiting. When I travel, when I’m out of town, I typically take my iPad with me. I don’t usually take my MacBook and it’s because I have been able to set up my iPad to be a reasonably fully functional computer, but that takes applications and that takes things on the iPad to actually get it to that level of functionality. That’s where most people fall short. They don’t investigate the apps that are available that really take the iPad or the iPhone for that matter into the realm of being a really useful device.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, so personally I don’t use my iPads very much. The one I do like, and I actually purchased it for my staff as a Christmas gift is the iPad Mini. I have two of the regular sized iPads and then I got the mini and I just loved it so much. I thought it was a great Christmas gift for my staff and I got it for them. And it’s just small enough to hold like a book. So I really like the Kindle app on the iPad Mini. And then, of course, it has all the other features but in terms of a computer I think it’s incredibly weak. So what apps do you recommend, if you have any off the top of your head, for the iPad that can give it more of that computer-like functionality?

Sierra Modro: Well, the key for computing is really having access to email and applications. So number 1 is get your Dropbox app on there so that you have access to all of your files. Once that’s on, you’re gonna need access to a good word processor and probably a good presentation software. I’ve recently started using Prezi for presentation software in addition to Keynote, and Prezi is really an interesting way of viewing a presentation. It completely divorces you from the mindset of slides and tends to make a presentation a lot more interactive. So Prezi is something that I’ve been very happy with, both on my iPad and on my computer. But the Prezi software still allows you to make changes to your presentation. You can create an entire presentation using Prezi. And then Pages – when it comes to actually doing word processing, I like pages. And I’ve been using Office HD and that has some interesting points to it. It integrates well, being able to open up Word documents that other people have created using Word, particularly Word for Windows, Word in Windows, it works quite well for that. When you open up Word documents in Pages on your iPad, it can sometimes change the formatting a little bit, so that’s something that you need to be cautious about.

Jason Hartman: So Office HD, is that just the Microsoft Office product online in the cloud?

Sierra Modro: No. There’s an actual application for the iPad called Office HD.

Jason Hartman: Is that like the Microsoft products though? Or is it…

Sierra Modro: No. I don’t actually know how they get away with calling it Office.

Jason Hartman: I would think the lawsuit would be coming because Microsoft owns that concept.

Sierra Modro: Maybe Microsoft hasn’t quite been able to brand the word “office” since people actually do go into offices on a regular basis.

Jason Hartman: Fair enough. And offices were around long before Microsoft. I agree some of this stuff’s a little ridiculous for sure. Okay, yeah, this is some really good information that you’ve shared. I just gotta ask you, though, any others? These are great. I guess you blog about these things when you find out about them. It’s an ever changing world.

Sierra Modro: It is. And I do blog about it and I post on Facebook a lot about new technologies as I find them. Just yesterday, I’m all hyped up and excited about a new app that just came out yesterday for the iPhone called Sunrise. It replaces the built in calendar application. If you’re using Google Calendar and you have an iPhone which happens to describe me quite well, Sunrise actually gives you an interesting collaboration, I think is a good way to put it, between your calendar, your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile and what was the other one? Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. So when you’re looking at your calendar, if you have a meeting coming up for instance, my meeting that I had with you today, when it popped up in Sunrise it had a link to your Facebook page, it had a link to your LinkedIn profile, it had a copy of your headshot from your LinkedIn profile there so that it’s a reminder when you’re going to meetings of who you’re actually meeting with.

Jason Hartman: Right. And nowadays – it kind of sounds terrible in a way – but with social media we all have so many “friends”. They’re not the same as the old-fashioned friends. But the typical circle of friends has become much larger for people. And so keeping up with all of them and remembering all of them, that’s a little more complicated than it used to be. And the app, I just looked for it, it’s technically I think called Sunrise Calendar, right? That’s the app you’re talking about?

Sierra Modro: Their website is Sunrise.am. It’s probably called Sunrise Calendar. It’s just called Sunrise on my icon.

Jason Hartman: It says Sunrise is a free calendar app made for Google Calendar users. But I’m not sure that’s exactly the same one but I just want to be sure.

Sierra Modro: And their color scheme is orange.

Jason Hartman: There’s a bunch of apps that tell what time the sun rises, so I didn’t want people to get confused.

Sierra Modro: Those are not the same ones. Sunrise.am, though, is the link to their website which has an interesting little video on there so that you can see what Sunrise actually does. Yeah, these kinds of applications are always changing. Their capabilities are always improving. I like to, when I’m working with clients, I like to focus on either activating dormant assets that you already have or exploiting the kind of free applications, they’re very low cost applications, that are available on the internet. Because a lot of times the solution to your problem is not spend more money. The solution to your problem is work smarter with what you’ve already got.

Jason Hartman: Couldn’t agree more, couldn’t agree more. And I’ve fallen into the trap of just throwing money at things and we should learn that from government that that doesn’t solve the problem.

Sierra Modro: Yeah. I worked with a client one time who management had decided that they needed a CRM, a customer relationship management program for the project management team and the upper management decided the right solution was to bring in sales force, get it all implemented. They spent thousands of dollars and then went to the people who are actually going to use this software and said “Here it is. Go and use this.” No one used it. No one knew what problem it was supposed to be solving, how it was supposed to work in their custom workflow. When I came on the scene and started working with the project management team and the upper management, found out and identified what the problem was, turned out they didn’t even need a CRM to solve their stated problem.

All they needed were a couple of process tweaks and a free widget that linked their email system to an existing Microsoft cloud-based backend that they had in house and that ended up saving them several thousand dollars per year ongoing for their sales force fees that they were paying. But they did it too late. They already had some sunk costs because they didn’t actually think through what the business needs were first. They just went straight after a technology solution without really thinking about what the problem was they were trying to solve, what they could use that they already had to solve the problem that they had stated, and that’s where the trap is that many business fall into is to think that you’ve got to get something new. It’s a new problem, so it must need new software or new hardware, or at the very least a new processor.

Jason Hartman: For many people, business people and just people in their personal lives as well, it’s just easy to go buy something. A lot of time it’s just easier to buy something or throw money at something than it is to actually think it through and to make wise decisions about it. Your point is very well taken. It really is. Good, well give out your website and tell people where they can learn more about you and your work.

Sierra Modro: Well, my website is LeapToGreatness.com. And I do have a blog on the website, Sierra’s Tech Talk, where I have tips that I give out on a weekly basis. I talk a lot about dormant assets there as well. And LeapToGreatness.com is the best way to find me.

Jason Hartman: And the Leap to Greatness page on Facebook – by the way, I just noticed we’re already Facebook friends – I didn’t even know that – but the Leap to Greatness page on Facebook, is that where you give out tips? It looks like it. Yeah, I see Sunrise on there and all of that stuff. Great, good stuff. Well, I haven’t liked that page yet until now I just did. So I can’t wait to see your tech tips in my newsfeed. They’re really, really good. Good. Well, Sierra, thank you so much for joining us today and keep up the good work. Anything else you’d like people to know?

Sierra Modro: Before you buy, think it through and see if you can reuse what you’ve already got.

Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Well, after this conversation I’m gonna go be getting a couple new things. But, at least this time, I think they were thought out throughout this conversation. Thanks so much, Sierra.

Sierra Modro: Thank you, Jason.

Jason Hartman: This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com or email media@HartmanMedia.com. Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively. (Image: Flickr | shoutabyss)

Transcribed by Ralph

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