The business tools you can't work without
(Business 2.0) – Easy Listening
iMuffs Bluetooth Headset; $180; www.wi-gear.com
LEE CORKRAN Founder and CEO, BrightQube
I can't stand most of the Bluetooth headsets on the market today. It's bad enough that they make me look like a cyborg, but the sound quality is often poor. Not so with Wi-Gear's new iMuffs head-phones, which, despite the cutesy name, are truly ingenious. Since they're designed specifically for iPod users and can connect from as far as 30 feet away, I can simply pop the music player into my backpack, slip my cell phone into my pocket, and listen to music wirelessly without worrying about missing a call. Buttons on the outside of one earpiece control the volume and music functions. When a call comes in, the headphones automatically pause the song, and I just touch the "Play" button to answer the phone. Now I never get tangled up in cords while listening to tunes, and I don't miss calls because I'm fumbling around trying to pause the iPod while grabbing for my cell.
A Smoother Ride
Zipcar; $25 to join, then $50 a year and $9 an hour; www.zipcar.com
ROCKY AGRAWAL Program director, AOL Search new products
I got a bad case of sticker shock on my last trip to San Francisco. I shelled out $234 for a rental car, $265 more for parking—and don't even get me started on today's gas prices. Then I found a cheaper and more efficient way to get to and fro: Zipcar, a car-sharing program operating in 29 cities across North America. Now I go online, reserve a car at the nearest downtown location (usually within blocks of my hotel), and pay $9 an hour, gas and insurance included. I can get Mini Coopers, 3 Series BMWs, Toyota Priuses, and other stylish rides. And I don't waste time picking up a car at the airport or searching for a gas station before returning it. Getting around town has become the easiest part of my business trips.
The Juice Bar
Audiovox 96-Watt DC-to-AC Power Inverter; $30; www.shoptronics.com
PETER T. BROWN Partner, Waggle Labs
There's nothing worse than having your laptop run out of power at a crucial moment. I once lost the chance to do a demo for a very important client because my laptop battery died before our meeting at a sidewalk cafe with no available outlets. So I've started using this Audiovox power inverter to recharge my computer in the car. It plugs into the cigarette lighter, converts my car's 12-volt DC power into 110-volt AC power, and has a three-prong outlet that can be used by my laptop and portable printer. It's a lifesaver when I'm spending the day driving from meeting to meeting—I no longer have to stop at a coffee shop and lurk around until I can grab one of the few seats near a power outlet. It's also great for my rock-climbing vacations, since I'm usually at the end of some dirt road miles from the nearest juice. Now I never have to worry about missing out on a business opportunity for lack of wattage.
Food for Thought
Mensa Brain Bafflers; $13; www.barnesandnoble.com
TIM WESTERGREN Founder, Pandora
About two and a half years ago, I found myself having trouble retaining information. I thought I was going senile. Then I started researching how the brain functions and learned that working on puzzles, anagrams, sudoku, and the like can strengthen one's mathematical, verbal, and problem-solving skills. I kept reading about Mensa Brain Bafflers, produced by the famous society of superintellects, so I bought a copy. It offers a good mix of puzzles and games that are challenging but not impossible. Each day I spend a little time working on a problem. The exercises teach me to look at business challenges differently by redefining the problems or reorganizing the available information. Working on verbal puzzles has made me much more articulate, a real asset when speaking about my company at conferences. As long as I keep up with my daily brainteasers, I am never tongue-tied, absentminded, or stumped.
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From the July 1, 2007 issue