I love audio; all my best ideas come from walking around and listening to audio.
But it was not always like this; the humble combination of a cell phone, app and headphones turned my life around; in fact, it saved it and opened up a whole new universe for me.
Feeling dumb, stupid and inadequate.
So I was staring at my paperback copies of ‘A Sentimental Journey Through France And Italy‘ by Stern and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood‘ by Dickens and could feel the panic coming over me.
I just could not read, I looked at the words and could open the book and even read the words out loud, but they did not register.
It was like being stabbed and not feeling any pain, but what was going on for me was painful.
It was even more painful because I wanted to do this. I enjoyed being at university and was frustrated that I could not read at the speed and pace required.
Everybody seemed to be able to read and take in information but me, I felt dumb stupid and inadequate.
You’re not stupid; you are a dyslexic
After a series of tests at the university education support centre, I’d be tested positive for dyslexia and which was somewhere between relief and distress.
I love learning and creativity but found school very hard and always been
in a slow class.
I got a lot of support at university to learn how to deal with dyslexia; I had a weekly coaching session where I learnt about managing my time, productivity and head.
These sessions opened me up to the value of self-development and learning.
But the reading was still an issue, and a big part of doing a degree in Education and English literature is reading a lot and then writing – a lot.
My soon to be wife looked at me crumbling in pain in front of the pile of books and headed to the internet and found audible.co.uk, signed me up and within 20 minutes both books were on my iPod.
This moment was like when Neo gets plugged into learning in the Matrix.
Learning how to learn
Fifteen years later, I have 578 books in my audio library.
I read every day, I take notes and being my dyslexia is my superpower, it means I have to take ‘the long way round’ sometimes, but I love it.
These days I read a couple of books a week and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ has an extraordinary place in my heart.
I’m a million miles away from being paralysed by reading and writing; I read books over and over again with love.
Since December 2013, when I joined 750Words.com, I’ve written 750 words or more every day.
I’ve tried and tested many audio methods on apple and android, here are few I use all the time.
OMG, this is the one app I could not live without. This is the one reason I stay on Apple.
It is built for Apple and works amazingly. A few years ago, I moved to android, at that moment in time, the android version was not at the same level.
You can send any webpage, blog, PDF, slide deck, google doc, word doc here and in seconds it will convert it into text and read it back.
You can also import audio files, sync it with your iCloud, import from google drive, dropbox, Evernote and pocket.
There are endless voices to choose from, and even in the early days of this app, they were rock solid.
I can’t recall this app ever being shit. Right from the start when I got it in 2013 it was amazing.
When people send me 50-page reports I load them in here and read them in ten minutes, they are still dull, but I’m listening for the nugget.
And listening to what people have written in reports and blogs helps you with writing.
I also read my work back here; it helps me spot errors and listen to the flow.
There is also a voice dream writer app that works best on the iPad, I don’t use it at much these days, but it is handy.
The Voice Dream inventor Winston Chen was featured in the Apple Store stories here.
2. Natural Reader – for desktop/laptop:
Is similar to Voice Dream Reader, but the mobile experience is not on the same level.
You can click read the page, and it sorts out the adverts from the text; also you can download articles as MP3’s.
It has been a great help as I was always sending stuff to my phone to read, but now I can do it on screen.
I heard about this on a podcast around 2011, and since then Steve Cunningham has made audio summaries of 100’s of books.
He has even grouped them into micro-courses and year-long courses.
There are a lot of similarities between Read-it-for-me-pro and Blinkist.com – I find Steve’s platform much more personal, and I like the way he has organised the books into courses.
The course thing is crazy simple and an obvious thing to do, but he bothered to think about it. And do it.
At the time of writing, Steve has a generous lifetime deal on to keep you learning during lockdown – check it here.
When I first listened to podcasts around fifteen years ago, they only seemed to come via iTunes.
Then around 2011, when I started to get into recording myself, podcasting exploded.
There is not enough room here to say how much I got from podcasting, but it is a lot.
One story I followed from start to finish is Alex Blumberg and Gimlet Media.
On the way, I took Alex’s Creative Live course – Power Your Podcast with Storytelling and in the middle, he started Gimlet Media.
Alex documented the first days of Gimlet Media in his April 2014 podcast Start-Up, in January 2019 Alex and Matt sold Gimlet to Spotify for over $200 million.
5. Pocket App.
Over the years I’ve played with so many reading apps and for the last seven years have been committed to pocket, the mobile and browser extensions work great, I have a tagging system that only I would ever understand.
A few years ago they added an audio reader to the mobile, that has gradually got better with time.
6. Sound Wise – audio courses
Sound Wise popped up on App Sumo (a deals site for marketing apps) at the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and has changed my whole business.
You’ll be hearing more about Soundwise on this website, so I’ll be short here.
Sound Wise enables you to deliver audio courses, books and podcasts online and via a mobile app AND run a community there.
Think Facebook group meets Spotify meets Teachable.
I’d always lie down with exhaustion at the thought of producing an online course.
All those £ucking videos, hosting, editing, updating killed me before I got going.
Besides, I am doing a bit of online course every day, from Business Made Simple University, Data-Driven, Make Your Mark Online, and never watch I ALWAYS listen!
It turns out 70% of people signed up to online learning do the same as me, audio-only.
I LOVE teaching workshops and riffing with people like Captian American says ‘I could do this all day!’
I also come alive with a mic in front of me, whether that is a zoom call or podcast.
As crap as it sounds, it never occurred to that it was ok to produce an audio-only course.
You don’t know what you don’t know, even if you are doing it yourself.
Stay tuned; my audio courses are coming, baby!
And in the meantime, I’m uploading everything I signed up to into my own private Soundwise channel, you can even send videos there, and it will convert it into an MP3.
Play.ht is a plug-in for your website that turns a written article into an audio track.
For someone like me, this is heaven-sent, I check out after a few paragraphs even if the words are excellent.
Play.ht has hundreds of voices and turns your words into audio and publishes them on your site and medium.
Two other epic Play.ht bonuses are:
– you can make a podcast of your content with the app and send it to Spotify, Apple and Google.
– When people listen to content, they are on your page for longer, and in search engines eyes, this increases the ‘time on site’ score.
Which over time means you get recognised as more of an authority in your space – you heard that right?
Are you listening to this, right?
Otter.ai is one of the best things to ever happen to me after ‘Voice Dream Reader I mentioned earlier.
Upload audio and it gets turned into text is what’s Otter.ai‘s prime function is for you.
It does it fast, with decent accuracy and the more you use it, the more it learns.
You can record directly into it from your mobile device, so recording talks and turning them into written articles works.
I turned this webinar with OfficeRnD into this simple blog post here.
It is worth pointing out that the better you plan what you’ll say the easier it will be to turn the audio into a text.
Otter.ai is excellent for recording an interview and then writing it up. I always let the person I’m interviewing know I’m going to write this up and invite them to give concise answers; it saves hours at the other end.
Last of all on Otter.ai when you have paid account you can connect it to your Zoom account, and it automatically transcribes your meetings.
Then you can search the text, it gives the most used words, which is how I found out how often I use the ‘f’ word.
9. Meditation – Headspace
It was 2012, I was losing my head, and my mental health was going down day by day; eventually, I had a full blow breakdown.
Back then, I had meditation classed as something for people that overate salad did.
I fell firmly into the type of person who would rather have an electric shock than be alone with my thoughts.
Around March 2013 coworking space I’m a member of ran a five-week meditation course in a very sunny room overlooking the Olympic Park in London.
It sounds silly to write, but I found it so hard sitting still and being with my thoughts.
Doing the course got me onboard to sitting still and not doing anything, I started to settle for the first time in years.
After that, I signed up to the Headspace App and have meditated nearly every day since.
It is not insignificant to say I owe my life and mental health to being able to put on headphones and listen to daily meditations on my phone.
10. Engaging People Sessions – How To Market Your Coworking Space The Simple Way.
So by now, you can tell I am a HUGE fan of audio.
Since 2011 I’ve recorded and produced well over five hundred podcasts for clients and my projects.
In July 2020, I’m launching a podcast on my site using Sound Wise to build a community.
I’ve made a big list of people I 100% believe in who have a no bollox attitude their life and business.
These are people I’ve leant from, worked with, I am a member of a community with and value their friendship.
Some you will have read their books, seen their keynotes and worn their T-Shirts. Others you have never heard of but you will after this!
The podcast is to help independent coworking spaces build a sales funnel and get their business thriving.
All the topics are ‘kind of evergreen’ this podcast aims to help listeners navigate out of the COVID-19 crisis and with simple weekly actions.