Resources I Love

People often ask me about the resources, tools, products, services, and technology I use. So I created this page to share the “best of” with you in a number of categories. It’s constantly updated because I’m committed to accuracy and relevancy (translation: “C’mon back now, ya hear?”).

Note: I’ve personally used or firmly believe that everything here has big-time value. Like everything in life though, your experience may vary. So please don’t spend money on something you feel won’t truly help you reach your goals.

Also know that there are affiliate links on this page, meaning I earn a small commission if you purchase something through one. Value of Simple is entirely community-supported and any amount earned through a link helps keep it that way. Your support also helps our partner charity – Second Harvest Heartland – battle hunger.

As always, thank you for supporting me, this site, and this community!

If you want to jump to different parts of this page use the links below.

Website or Blog Related

BlueHost: I lucked out when I first signed up for website hosting. I had no idea what I was doing, but Bluehost has been rock-solid for me.

They do more than just help me avoid the horror stories I’ve heard my friends and peers talk about with other web hosts. The pricing for hosting and domain name purchasing are great, they have one click automatic WordPress install, and their customer service is top-notch. You can even run multiple sites from one account.

AWeber: I’m not the only one saying that building an email subscription list is, hands down, one of the most important things any website owner can do. And if you want one, AWeber is the best email subscription service in my experience.

WordPress.org: Totally free and totally awesome. There is a reason just about everyone I know uses WordPress.org to self-host their website and power their content management. Don’t get this confused with WordPress.com though.

WordPress Themes, Plug-ins, and Analytics

Themes

Headway Themes: Installing this premium WordPress theme has made all the difference in how I present myself, my content, and the flexibility to make changes on my own. They have out-of-the-box search engine optimization, a drag and drop visual editor, super-fast page load times, and the community support is wonderful.

Plug-ins

Secure WordPress: Installing this doesn’t mean you’ll never have to worry about your site getting hacked. But it will reduce the chances of it happening. It’s free and it works.

W3 Total Cache: Page load times and usability increases with just two minutes of set up? Yes please!

WordPress SEO: Everyone should be using some kind of SEO plug-in (in my opinion) and there’s no better one than this. Actually, any plug-in from Joost de Valk is normally the best in its category.

Online Communities

The Puttytribe: I’m a multipotentialite and you may be too. This is the perfect community for “smooshing” all your interests into a business idea or into a manageable course in life.

How To Connect with Anyone (CWA): For those of you who don’t know, Scott Dinsmore is the man! This is his membership community to help people make life-changing connections and get the people you need in your corner to achieve your biggest goals. I’ve only been a member for a short while, but already this has been freakin’ amazing for me and my peer development abilities.

Value of Simple Library

The books below have helped me simplify, organize, and be money more than almost anything else. These are true 10 out of 10 books for me … and they may be for you. There are many other books that I would recommend, but these are the pillars.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Tim Ferriss did for me what he did for millions of other people: he planted the seed that eventually grew into my current business. To say this was transformative would be an understatement. If you’ve ever dreamed about having your own small business or a passionate side hustle, this could be the best book out there.

Letters from a Stoic: This is a massive part of my framework for a simple and minimalist life. Every section is one big resonating quote after another from the Greek Stoic Seneca. More than anything else, this book lets you see just how simple life can be … if only we let it.

Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life: This answered the question of how much a single book could get deep into my soul. Not everyone’s life path is described or explained in this book, but Gail Sheehy does a magical job breaking down the common ones. Want to know where you’ve come from or where you’re going? Read this. Applicable to literally everyone.

Never Eat Alone: Keith Ferrazzi is a fantastic writer, thinker, explorer, and relationship master. If you want more meaningful connections, Keith’s wisdom is second-to-none. The combination of personal stories, case studies, and step-by-step guidelines are irreplaceable. If you read Never Eat Alone and love it, Keith’s follow up called Who’s Got Your Back is almost as valuable.

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book: This book has it all for self-publishers of any experience level. Technical details, strategic positioning, tactical decisions … you name it, it’s here. Guy Kawasaki’s Microsoft Word template was what I used for writing Experience Curating and I would have been lost (and stressed) without his “Guy”dance.

The Heart of Addiction: This book by Lance Dodes was so amazing that I felt compelled to write a two-part series about it. I never understood why I binged on video games and sugar until I read the book. And it only took the first ten pages!

The Essays of Warren Buffett: Warren Buffett – arguably the past century’s greatest investor – is the only person I know that can make topics like corporate governance or mergers & acquisitions relevant to anyone. Lawrence Cunningham, the book’s curator, did a fantastic job taking the best content from 40 years of Buffett’s shareholder letters and arranging them in meaningful way. Yes, you’ll learn about investing. But you’ll also learn how to be a better person. Did I mention how entertaining Buffett is?

Videos

There are more videos that blow my mind beyond the TED Talks I wrote about in A Statement to Reframe Everything. They are:

Software I Can’t Live Without

Microsoft Excel: The King of the Tools! Discover why I curate my existence in Excel spreadsheets by reading one of my all-time most popular posts, “Spreadsheets and You: How and Why to Put Your Life in Them.”

Lastpass: It takes a lot to get me to switch from a spreadsheet to another tool. But Lastpass made me give up spreadsheets for user ID and password tracking … forever. It syncs across all your electronic devices, auto logs you into website (if you want), and just plain rocks.

Quicken: I’m way into personal finance and Quicken lets me go way deep, be organized, and stay sane. I wouldn’t be qualified to talk about half the personal finance stuff I do if it wasn’t for Quicken.

Skype: It’s a free platform that lets you talk to someone with high-quality video over the Internet. I use it to talk to friends and family across the world and also for most of my Smart and Simple Matters interviews. Google+ Hangouts are also excellent, but Skype is superior for 1:1 chats.

VLC Media Player: Tired of the built in media player for Windows or Macs? VLC is better in just about every way. My favorite part is speeding up or slowing down the action when you’re watching videos or listening to podcasts. This feature alone saves me hundreds of hours a year and you can watch my brief – but comprehensive – tutorial on maximizing VLC. So the next time you want to listen to my podcast, but don’t want to commit the full time, just speed me up with VLC.   

Productivity or Other Tools

Dropbox: I use Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive as well for free cloud-based storage for my files. But the interface of Dropbox is the best and it’s my preferred platform for synching all my files across multiple electronic devices.   

Evernote: You’ve probably heard of Evernote by now. If not, this is your public service announcement that you can have a second memory for free. Evernote can be your note taking method, to-do list keeper, and master place to keep your important information. Check them out and see how shifting the taxing tasks on your brain can be done easily.

Feedly: I subscribe to a crazy number of RSS feeds for blogs, new briefs, periodicals, podcasts, and more. Feedly allows me to access them all in one place, simply, and in a very customizable way.

Gmail: I wish I didn’t have to say this but, if you’re using any other free email service besides Gmail, try it immediately. It’s night and day. I wish I could get back all those years of my life where I was using Yahoo email and replace them with the awesomeness of Gmail.

Google Analytics: The granddaddy of website analytics. Free, powerful, customizable, and off the charts usability. At a minimum, you should be using this to understand the traffic to and from your website.

FreeMind: Have you ever mind mapped before? I didn’t even know such a thing existed until 2012. But since then, turning abstract thoughts into something actionable is so much easier. I even tried the paid MindMeister mind mapping program and prefer this free one better.  

The Refuge of Simplicity

This is where you’ll find the first half of Experience Curating, The Personal User Guide, full Spreadsheet Spotlight resources, bonus Value of Simple Declaration images, and more free tools. Thousands have used these resources to simplify, organize, and be money wise … and you can join them right now by using the form below.

 

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