Tech Trends: Solutions and Gadgets and Apps, Oh My!

It wasn’t that long ago that we came across this article by Mike Moore and Desire Athow on TechRadar in which they highlight the “Best Business Accessories of 2019.”

As consumers, a lot of us are programmed to run to the next shiny object (or maybe that’s just me) and think it’s a must-have, but this article had me at “spot the products that will give you that extra boost.”

That’s right, I love that in this article, you can find not just fun products, but also products that can actually help to make your business life easier. Although we’re not sure all the products are “must-haves” (it really depends on your business), here are a few of our favorite business solutions and products (from their list as well as our own personal list):

Cybersecurity: As mentioned in our cybersecurity blog, this topic is not going anywhere. Hackers are changing strategies every day. Considering cybersecurity solutions that are right for your organization is imperative in defending your data.
Cloud computing: Whether it’s Google, Box, Dropbox, or another solution, cloud applications allow you to access your work from anywhere at anytime. Most cloud applications are highly collaborative and secure, which allows you to shift from managing IT to driving your business results.
Analytics tools: Every day your business is collecting data—data on customer buying patterns, usage trends, choices, etc. But your greatest competitive advantage is making sense of this data to drive change. Investing in tools, whether that’s CRM software or more advanced machine learning options, is not just a “here today, gone tomorrow” fad, but rather the new reality of all businesses.

Apps and Gadgets:
Square Reader: If you ever need to take payment instantaneously, this is a great solution. It easily plugs into your mobile device and allows for the transfer of payments quickly.
Tiny Scanner: It’s the app (you can find in the Apple App Store) that allows you to turn your mobile device into an instant scanner. Do you need to scan a document unexpectedly and send it back to your office via email while at the airport? Tiny Scanner has you covered.
AirBar: We haven’t gotten to try this yet, but we have it on our business wish list for the year. Easily turning my laptop into a touchscreen is a dream.

Honorable Mentions:
Evernote (an oldie, but a goodie)
Scanner Pro

What technology solutions and apps/gadgets are your MUST-HAVES? Do you have any recommendations? We’d love to hear from you and try out a few new products and solutions this year, too!

2019-06-06T14:16:55+00:00June 3rd, 2019|

Powerhouse Asks: What Are You Reading?

Summer is right around the corner. That means summer reading lists are being compiled now. We’ve gotta have time to stockpile those “must-have” reads, whether that means taking an online trip to the digital bookstore, stopping by a real life bookstore, or making sure your favorite library either has the books you want or can get them for you. Here at Powerhouse, we’ve been thinking about what we want to read this summer, so we thought it would be interesting to reach out to our clients to see what they recommend. Rissa Reddan, senior vice president of marketing for PayNet, an Equifax company, graciously sat down with us for a chat on life, work, and what she’s reading now and this summer.

PayNet was founded 20 years ago with a desire to serve the small business community. Located just outside of Chicago in Skokie, IL, PayNet’s mission is “to make the lending process faster, easier, more accurate, and more profitable.” Today, they focus on the digital lending revolution and how to help lenders navigate the digital world in order to make better decisions on how and where to lend their money. Reddan came on board about a year ago. With a background in marketing, which she considers to be both an art and a science (and thus perfect for her), Reddan loves the opportunity she has at PayNet to have a real chance to put a fingerprint on a place. Usually in marketing, the brand is already established and the ability to shape that brand just doesn’t exist. However, the entrepreneurial culture at PayNet has allowed Reddan to have an impact on how their brand is grown and how it is marketed. In other words, PayNet gives her that true blend of art and science that she craves.

Because she works in a place that has such a passion for helping small businesses succeed, grow, and thrive in our present economy, is it any wonder that Reddan’s book recommendations all focus either on finance or on how to succeed? Her first recommendation is a book by former Bank of America Executive Vice President Richard J. Parsons entitled Investing in Banks: Strategies and Statistics for Bankers, Directors, and Investors. A highly practical book for serious investors that delves into all aspects of the banking world, it truly is an enlightening read on how banks operate.

She also recommends Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by psychologist Adam Grant, Wharton’s youngest tenured professor, and Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success by Esther Choy, a Chicago-based author and founder of Leadership Story Lab. Grant’s book posits that there are three types in the workplace: takers, matchers, and givers. He shows how these styles impact success. Choy believes that nobody remembers statistics, but everyone remembers a good story. Her book shows you how to take your life experiences to create a narrative that will help you realize your business goals.

On Reddan’s personal reading list is Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown, which her entire marketing team is reading right now. Brown’s book claims that empathy, connection, and courage are necessary ingredients to putting your leadership ideas into practice. In Reddan’s queue as well are The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, The Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, and Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

A self-professed extrovert, Reddan does best when she has others to share her thoughts and ideas with; thus, book clubs are a big way in which she processes what she reads. It’s no surprise that most of her recommendations come from either past, present, or future book club reads. She highly encourages sharing your thoughts on what you read with someone. Not only does reading improve you, but also sharing what you read helps bring others together and foster new, exciting ideas that can change the world. Is it any wonder that Reddan is one of our favorite people? Now, I’m off to go pitch to Powerhouse President Jessica Bertsch that we absolutely, positively must form a company book club and choose one of Reddan’s recommendations as our first read!

2019-05-01T18:39:59+00:00May 12th, 2019|

Top Five Books for Your Summer Reading List

It’s hard to believe that summer 2019 is almost upon us! What better way to celebrate the beginning of prime vacation season than with a list of small-business-oriented books with which to fill your beach bag. Our list is comprised of the top five books small business owners, or those thinking of starting a small business, should read for inspiration, tips, or lessons learned.

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
It’s a classic for a reason. Named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the 20th Century, 7 Habits author Stephen Covey’s take on business is encapsulated by the following philosophy: We should be living lives of greatness and enduring purpose. His bestseller has been shaping and transforming lives for 25 years.

2. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth was a somewhat surprising bestseller. In this edition, he has completely revised his seminal work. Gerber walks you through the life of a business from inception to the end. He draws a distinction between working on your business and working in your business, and the difference can change how you view and run your business. In addition, he supplies plenty of ways to apply franchise lessons to your business model, even if you don’t own a franchise.

3. Built to Last: Success Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras
Collins and Porras spent six years on a research project conducted by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. They took 18 companies and did an in-depth comparison between them and one of their largest competitors. The results provide countless examples and principles that can be applied to any level of business management.

4. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
One of America’s premier biographers takes on one of America’s great business visionaries. Apple’s founder put nothing off limits, submitting to 40 interviews in a two-year period and allowing family and friends to be interviewed while refusing any creative control over how Isaacson portrayed him. The result is a riveting look into the life and business practices of the man who invented one of the top computer technology companies and then resurrected it from the brink of irrelevancy to make it one of the most powerful companies in the world today.

5. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by Phil Knight
This is the autobiography of the Nike founder and board chairman. It’s a candid look at, as Booklist called him, “the man behind the swoosh.” Bill Gates named this one of his five favorite books of 2016. Rife with hidden gems by one of the top names in sports apparel, this book is definitely worth a read.

Honorable Mentions (because five books just isn’t enough):
1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & Others Don’t by Jim Collins
2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

2019-05-01T15:05:17+00:00May 1st, 2019|


He Turns Water Bottles into Fashionable Bags: How This CEO Balances It All

By: Karen Pinkston

Hamilton Perkins knows firsthand that being a CEO and an entrepreneur is grueling. At 30 years old, he launched a sustainable business that makes fashionable bags and totes out of recycled water bottles and billboard covers.

After receiving $10,000 on a Kickstarter campaign in less than a week, Perkins officially launched the Hamilton Perkins Collection in 2017. Since then, he’s sold thousands of bags in the U.S. and around the world. Major retaliators like Nordstrom, West Elm, and Zappos signed up to sell Perkins’ eco-friendly bags. And the media has taken note. Forbes, The Washington Post, and Money magazine have all covered his story of making functional fashion from water bottles.

But Perkins knows having a sustainable business also requires having a sustainable life. Powerhouse Planning caught up with Perkins to see how he manages his own stress and wellness as a CEO.

Q. What’s a typical day like for you?

I start at the gym to do something physical. Then, I have time for planning out my day. I try to do my hardest work in the morning, the work that requires the most mental horsepower. I do all the heavy lifting before noon, and focus on more routine tasks in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I move into some type of networking or speaking event.

Q. CEOs have a lot to manage, all aspects of a business. Do you have any hacks that keep you feeling more in control?

Daily journaling is a hack for me. It’s easy to jump in the hamster wheel and keep on going. But it’s important to take the time to reflect and see what we have accomplished as a team. Make plans to hit your goals. Practice gratitude by celebrating even the smallest wins.


2019-04-15T20:11:28+00:00April 15th, 2019|

Did You Know?

The idea of finding a healthy work/life balance isn’t new, but it has come into prominence because of the dominant presence of millennials in the workforce. Yes, the much-maligned millennial generation has employers scrambling to reassess just what it means to have a healthy work life and a healthy home life.

Chronic stress is among the most common health issues for employees, with burnout a close, but related, second. Employees today report that a flexible work environment is critical to productivity and inspiration. Powerhouse is passionate about helping everyone find a perfect work/life balance. Check out our resources for ideas on team building, which can help you open a dialogue at work about work vs. life issues. Or consider hiring Powerhouse to handle some of your tasks so that you and those you work with can achieve that ideal work/life balance.

2019-04-15T20:11:43+00:00April 15th, 2019|

Five Hacks to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

By: Karen Pinkston

Have you ever felt the pressure for your brand to be on all the popular social media channels? You are not alone. The good news is you don’t have to go down that path. Be strategic, and don’t try to be everywhere. Focus on the networks that are most relevant to your brand, and make your content awesome. Here are five tips to help you get started.

#1 Define your audience.

Take a moment to clearly define whom you’re trying to reach. Think of your ideal candidate or customer. Put yourself in their shoes. What age are they? What interests them? What do they value? Where are they living?

Answering these questions will tell you what social media platforms to target. If you’re trying to reach teens ages 13 to 17, YouTube is the most popular social media channel, with 85% of them using it. Or you might consider Instagram and Snapchat, as about 70% of teens are actively engaging on those platforms, according to the 2018 study “Teens, Social Media, and Technology” completed by the Pew Research Center.

#2 Know what works.

Part of knowing your audience is knowing what resonates with them. A great way to do this is to look at your competitors or at other successful similar campaigns. Analyze which ones had the most engagement and why.

When I was the communications director for a sheriff’s office, we found that humorous recruitment videos had more views and shares than serious ones. That data drove our decision to create a video with a sense of humor. But most of all, figure out the key factor that will set your brand apart. How can you be better than the rest and stand out?


2019-04-16T00:08:03+00:00April 15th, 2019|

Finding Work/Life Balance in Today’s Changing Workforce

By: Rheanna Bernard

The phrase “work/life balance” is one that has been a topic of discussion for a long time. How do we have it all? How do we succeed at our work and keep our home life together and successful as well? With more and more people having the option to work from home, or to telework on a regular basis, the work/life balance has started to blend together. How can we successfully navigate our careers and our home lives? Here are three tips to put you on the right track. (Many thanks to the military spouses and working moms who contributed to this conversation.)

  1. Organize Your Work at Home

Meghan Wieten-Scott, senior outreach advisor at Blue Star Families, shares that organizing your work life at home is key. “It helped so much when I turned our guest room into an office. It gave me a door I could close.” And gave her a place to “leave” work at the end of the day. Setting boundaries is a sentiment shared by those who work from home and is key to organization. Social Media and Content Manager Jennifer Morrison shares that “I have an app that turns off notifications for work emails after 4 p.m. on the weekdays and completely off for the weekends.” Overall, if you’re working at home, organizing how you do that and sticking to that plan are key for success.

  1. Organize Your Home Life

Jennifer Porter, a lawyer in Northern Virginia, shared that Google Calendar has been an essential part of the success of her work/home balance. It’s how she and her family manage multiple calendars and share them with each other. Meal planning and meal prep are additional ways to stay organized and ahead of the game at home. Paying for a meal planning service or just spending the extra time compiling easy recipes to put in the Crock-Pot or throw in the freezer ultimately saves time.

  1. Set Expectations

Having a healthy understanding of what your expectations can really be is important. You have to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. This may require some trial and error and could be different from one month to the next. But it’s important to set realistic plans and remember that you can’t do everything you want to do all the time and still have balance. For example, Heather Oster, Northern Virginia educator turned stay-at-home mom, and her family set time aside to make an actionable plan for the coming weeks. Decide what is a priority, whether that be sitting down for dinner or going on a monthly date night, and get it on the calendar. “Yours will look different, but start with the tangible, important and realistic actions that you and your family value,” says Oster.

Regardless of whether you work in an office outside of the home, at your kitchen table, or some combination of the two, you can take actionable steps to continue to work toward navigating the home/work balance. Start a conversation with those around you and surround yourself with those who can support you and whom you can support as well. Because your community is a key part of success in life!

2019-04-17T01:37:28+00:00April 15th, 2019|

Client Profile: The Next Door Project

Powerhouse Service Provided: External Communications

We’ve partnered with Jacey Eckhart and helped launch her big idea into a reality. During a 12-month period, Jacey is walking her fans through the “Next Door Project.”

In her first post, Jacey shared, “So in the next few months I’m going to be working on the Next Door Project. You can come with me if you like, and we can go knock, knock, knockin’ of some of these Next Doors together to find out what we are supposed to be doing to get to meaningful work and a fulfilling life now. Because no one is coming to rescue us—not our husbands or our kids or our parents or our friends and not, by God, our employers. The Next Door isn’t going to find us. We are going to find it. Flannel pajammies and all.”

Whether you’re career transitioning or moving into a new season of life, Jacey is totally the person you need cheering you on to kick open the door and process what life has in store for you! We love serving on her team. Here’s what she had to say about our partnership:

“When you take a step in a new career direction, it can be unnerving. So I was really glad to find that Jess and her team were willing to listen to my ideas and help me decide which projects sounded strongest. Then they brought the images in my head to the screen. I couldn’t be more pleased with their work and their unfailing support.” – Jacey Eckhart

Do you have a big idea, but you aren’t sure where to start or how to make it happen? Email us at We’d love to be on your team!

2019-04-15T20:12:17+00:00April 15th, 2019|


Finding a healthy work/life balance may seem daunting, especially if you’re under a lot of stress at work or at home. We all need a little help from time to time (or every day). Here are three resources to help you start the process.

For the employee – Michael Page lays out five steps to achieving a healthy work/life balance. In easy-to-understand, concise language, Page gives you the tools to begin working on the balance you want.

For the employer – Interested in helping your employees achieve a positive work/life balance? Pingboard outlines some ways in which you can help your employees have a healthier attitude about work and about life.

For the reader – Like to cozy up with a good book? Matthew Kelly’s Off Balance will take you on an in-depth exploration of what it means to live a healthy, balanced life and career.

2019-04-15T20:12:39+00:00April 15th, 2019|


Iridescent: Empowering the World’s Underrepresented Young People, Especially Girls, Through Engineering and Technology to Become Innovators and Leaders

By: Randi Cairns

Empowering girls is the strongest determinant of progress for every development outcome for a society—from economic growth to equity, creativity, and innovation. Yet despite the demand for technology creators and inventors, we still have minimal representation from women and minorities in STEM fields, particularly in computer science (CS). In fact, the United States only graduates approximately 56,000 students each year in CS, and only 11,000 of these undergraduates are women and even fewer are Hispanic and Black.

Iridescent is a global STEM education nonprofit with a mission to empower the world’s underrepresented young people, especially girls, through engineering and technology to become innovators and leaders. For the past 13 years, Iridescent has been creating, implementing, and iterating an engineering and technology, project-based learning, mentor-supported education model. Over 130,000 students, parents, educators, and mentors have been served through their programming to date—across 100+ countries.


2019-04-15T20:12:28+00:00April 15th, 2019|