Flexibility in a Deviceless Atmosphere

Mattermark CEO Danielle Morrill just published a Medium post detailing her transition from being a laptop-laden executive to living (work) life sans laptop. According to her post, she now relies on four main devices, only two of which account for work-based devices: 1) 5K iMac with iMac Cinema Display (work), 2) older iMac version (home), 3) 13″ MacBook Pro (home), and 4) iPhone 6+ (work and home).

One of the reasons she notes for her transition to fewer devices in her work life is the health benefits that come with such a transition (under the subtitle “Walking More”). Short and to the point, her basic explanation is that the changeover has allowed her to begin taking part in a healthier lifestyle. As Morrill notes, laptops are heavy (relative to an iPhone, for example), and carrying one back and forth to work can certainly be a tax on one’s back and muscles. I know—I carry mine everywhere when I go out to Starbucks to get some work done or to a business meeting.

Yet one of the things that Morrill lightly touched on was her desire to walk more to and from the office, and reap the benefits of being able to do so sans laptop. This struck a particular chord with me because of the amount of physicality that’s associated with my own job.

Being in the music business can be physically taxing: nights spent at shows—standing in dive bars or clubs—for hours on end waiting to speak to artists after the set-list finishes can be a challenge sometimes. While I’m certainly not in the habit of bringing my laptop out to a show (nor would I bring a tablet), reliance on my iPhone is just half of the equation; the other half is being able to stand for that 4-6 hour window—oftentimes in a smoke-filled (dingy) atmosphere next to sweaty bodies (and even sometimes in a moshpit)—and remain limber enough to talk to that artist after the show and project a professional vitality on par with their high of playing to an audience. In this industry, if you can’t project that to an artist, you have close to nothing.

And that’s the reason Morrill’s piece resonates with me on such a deep level: though we work in completely different industries, her thoughts about moving around unencumbered—”No backpack. No purse. No laptop[,]” as she puts it—are sentiments that hit me directly precisely because they can and do apply so much to the music business. Running a tech startup is a challenge, but the ability to transition between tech CEO and music industry professional is critical; perhaps so much so because one must be able to talk with and pitch artists most times without any graphs, slideshows, or devices available—you need to be able to speak their language, and that most times consists of nothing more than a vision, a business card and damn pitch.

So while Morrill’s experience in transitioning to a lesser device-filled professional track comes from experience in a different industry, the basic premise of health and flexibility carries over in a very palpable way. I look forward to (and hope to see) Morrill writing a further update on the changeover; in a funny way, it provides a good roadmap for those of us with highly physical jobs to see how one can be simultaneously flexible and productive.

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