The 46th. Your personal tech stack: It matters what you have in it.

Published: November 1, 2020

The 46th Briefing Notes | TECH TALK

Tech stack is a term people who work in IT cares about.

In IT speak, a technology stack is a set of tools for implementing some intended IT idea. It consists of programming languages, frameworks, libraries, various development tools, etc.

You and I have a tech stack too. Even if we’re not working in IT.

Our stack is the combination of technology tools and apps that we use to function day-to-day. Some of the tools in our stack are productivity-related. Others are for work, health, security, entertainment, etc.

IT people, when considering their tech stack, think carefully about things like scalability, fit-for-purpose, security, compatibility, and such.

You should not choose a new technology for the sake of new technology.

We should too. Here’s why.

The app world has advanced so much since the early days that today, we have multiple choices for any type of app.

We’ve got options for note-taking apps, meditation apps, list apps, calendar apps, email apps. Name any part of your life wherein you could use an app, chances are you’ll have many options to choose from.

Which is great. It means there’s no default app anymore.

We get to pick the one that suits us. We get to pick the app or tech tool that is compatible with how we think, how we work, and how we live.

The tool we choose should not be dictating how we work or who we are. Rather, it should function…. to make it easier for us to function… in the way that we want to function.

That ⬆️ is my underlying philosophy around my tech use.

Of course, there are times when I pick a new app because I want it to help me change a habit or “become a better version of me.” My use of the Fitbit app is a good example of this.

But even then, I would argue, the app itself isn’t shaping me. It’s simply helping me become someone I’ve already decided to be.

I have not relinquished my choice in the matter.

This goes to the core of why I left Facebook a couple of years ago. I realized with dismay, that FB had turned me into something I didn’t want to be. Yes, I know — the app wasn’t holding my hand. It wasn’t pushing my fingers to do one thing or another. Ultimately, I WAS the one doing the doing. “Don’t blame Facebook, Lou.”

It is, however, an accepted fact (by the technology inventors themselves) that these apps were — and continue to be — designed to encourage maximum and repeated use.

“The Hook Model is designed to connect the user’s problem with the designer’s solution frequently enough to form a habit. It is a framework for building products that solve user needs through long-term engagement.” — Nir Eyal, Hooked

And as Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

With respect to Facebook, I didn’t like the habits I was forming by using it. I didn’t want those habits to be part of who I am.

Because I had been on it for several years, it wasn’t easy-peasy for me to leave FB. It took several months before I could say I no longer think of going back and using it again. But I’m happy to say today, I have been Facebook-free for over two years.

Bottom Line:

I don’t wish to suggest anything about your use of FB or any app for that matter. (I am still on Instagram and Twitter!)

What I’m going for here is a reminder… that even if using tech is a foregone conclusion in this day and age, we still have a choice in the matter.

We get to pick which tool/app we use, how we use them, and how often. Importantly, we get to choose what changes in ourselves we want to see as a result of our using these tools.


Doesn’t matter if we’re employed or self-employed, we are always selling something. And developing our sales and marketing skills is one investment that pays huge dividends.

Good news. Some of CreativeLive’s best-selling sales and marketing classes are on special. I’ve taken the ones taught by Vanessa Van Edwards, Ryan Holiday, Amy Schmittauer. Plus a whole bunch on the list taught by Tara Gentile.

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  • The 7 Main Ways Technology Impacts Your Daily Life. The use of technology is inescapable these days and we tend to take it for granted every day. takes the positive view in these 7 dramatic ways technology is deeply embedded in our lives – for good.
  • Digital Knowledge Quiz. Test your knowledge on digital topics and terms by taking this 10-question quiz by Pew Research Center. When you finish, you will be able to compare your score with other Americans who took the quiz and see the correct answer for each question.
  • Your Outboard Brain Knows All. Research shows we’re remembering fewer and fewer basic facts these days. In a poll of 3K people, 87% of respondents over 50 could recite a relative’s birth date, whereas less than 40% under 30 could do so. With the super ability of our mobile devices to remember these things for us, why would we even bother trying to cram this info into our own memory?
  • Eleven Best Note-Taking Apps. In a year’s time, this list will likely look different. After putting dozens of apps through their paces and testing every feature – from the writing experience to shortcuts to sharing capabilities – College InfoGeek put together this list of the best note-taking apps that are currently available.


“It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in our own behavior and perception that is the product. That’s the only thing that there is to make money from—changing what you do, how you think, who you are. It’s a gradual change, it’s slight.”
—Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist considered one of the founders of virtual reality tech


Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
by Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction. He describes why solving the problem is not as simple as swearing off our devices: Abstinence is impractical and often makes us want more. Indistractable reveals the key to getting the best out of technology, without letting it get the best of us.

This and other books recommendations here.


… when we hooked up our landline phone to an answering machine? We could set it up with a super-secret code (or sometimes, the machine came with a pre-determined super-secret code). Then, we could call-in from anywhere, enter the code, and the machine would rewind the tape and play our messages for us! We were so connected. 😊 Back in 1991, the NY Times had this to say:

The typical purchaser of an answering machine is 25 to 35 years old, somewhat more likely to be a woman than a man, with an annual salary exceeding $35,000. Buyers are more likely to live in the suburbs than in cities. “In the beginning, it was pure yuppie,” said William H. Kopp, vice president at Panasonic’s home-office electronics group, a leading maker of answering machines. “But now it’s a product for regular people.”

vintage panasonic answering machine


Technology makes things easier and improves our quality of life. But it also brings complications and creates stress unique to its very presence. Back in July 2019, I recorded an episode on Second Breaks about technology’s impact on our work-life balance. I explored when and how technology is helpful, and when it’s not. And I shared my thoughts on what we can do to keep technology on the useful side.

If you’d allow me to quote myself 😊

“It’s helpful to remember that technology – in and of itself – is neither good nor bad. The reality is we now live in a digital world. It’s easier than ever to communicate beyond the office walls. The boundaries between our personal and work lives are fuzzier than it’s ever been. How we use technology can determine whether it can help or hinder work-life balance.”

You can listen to this pulled-from-the-archive episode here.


Briefing Notes is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to produce and requires investments in numerous sources to sustain. I would be so grateful if you’d consider buying me a coffee or two. Your support really matters and it tells me you find value in this newsletter. 🧡

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Here in the US, it’s the weekend before one of the most consequential elections this country has ever had. And it’s happening with a COVID-19 surge as the backdrop.

Suffice it to say, anxiety and stress levels are high all around.

D’you know what? There’s an app (or several actually) to help with that. I use Insight Timer for meditation and calming music. And I listen to the Ten-Percent Happier podcast for overall sanity.

Do you have a favorite tool for stress management? Tell me about it!

Here’s to a safe and sane week.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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