Reflecting on the decades we’ve worked in the Heroik Innovation Lab and countless new media projects for clients across many different industries, there are a few tools that stand out and make work and life easier and more enjoyable. And when we think of groups or industries who can benefit the most from these simple and lean tools, nonprofits and startups are at the top of that list. Nonprofits and startups need great tools that are free, cheap, and amazingly effective (don’t we all?). We’ve put together a list that fits the bill. Here it goes:

There are many books out there disguised as how-to’s, prompting you to tell your story through social media, and to use it as a platform to build a more authentic brand. But let’s be real, most of these books are far removed of specifics with watered down recommendations to use social media to tell your story. Some of the better books on the subject show you how to sell-out your brand for mass appeal. These don’t pass the sniff test of building an authentic brand with great content. That’s where this book comes in.

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In our search for the best way to document our Heroik adventures, we need the toughest gear. Our gear will get dropped, dunked, and brought everywhere and anywhere there is adventure to be had. So we decided to torture test the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and break it in by dragging it along on the Tough Mudder, in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, 2011. The results were epic. Our only complaint, it doesn’t have a little automatic windshield wiper to wipe the mud off the lens.

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You might be amazed how many people deal with this contact conundrum- the years and in some cases, decades build up of contacts. Layer upon layer of stale and duplicate contact data rotting your Outlook database and virtual Rolodex of various flavors. Avoiding the inevitable time consuming, manual, contact reconciliation. After years spent fighting a losing battle, finally there’s a solution out there that doesn’t put your data at risk and minimizes the time, effort and energy required to sort it out. It’s a service called Scrubly.

Popplet is a web app for visual thinking. It can be used to mind-map, brainstorm, connect ideas, collaborate, illustrate, you name it. There’s really only one catch, it’s a Flash application. Luckily, they have an iPad app for that. Each popplet can be an image, video or text blurb. Each blurb can be connected to demonstrate a relationship between ideas, points, sub points and interesting floating mental nuggets.

We’ve used it extensively for 3 years:

  • Mapping out the state of Heroik/ schematic for Heroik Media’s current efforts and challenges
  • Exploring ideas on an interactive mind-map
  • Interactive vision boards for personal development exercises
  • Create Marketing Plans

I recently gave a talk on Popplet at the Office Optional conference in San Francisco. Check out the extended presentation and 11 Popplet Tips

Check it out here.


I prefer to operate lean, mean and mobile when it comes to tech. I live by the Principles of Digital liquidity – A discipline for the digital lifestyle consisting of  constant pursuit of 6 factors; speed, simplicity, independence, mobility, control and tactility. The tools that make it onto my utility belt help keep me free and in control of my digital lifestyle. All of these applications are cross-platform, synchronized, mobile-reachable from the web as well as via apps for iOS, Android, etc. Though I use many apps and solutions, these are kept in my pocket and on call everywhere I roam- digitally speaking. Here are 5 I never leave home without: