A Different (Unique And Perfect) Gift-Giving Guide

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Chances are that you’re still scrambling for some of your last minute gifts this holiday season.

I usually leave the hardest to shop for last (plus, I’m a firm believer that were it not for the last minute, nothing would get done). I’m not sure why we cause ourselves so much emotional turmoil, but we do tend to leave the heavy lifting of gift choices down to the wire. Family and friends have accused me of being very difficult to shop for. As someone who likes all of the latest and greatest gadgets, I can understand why (if it has lights and buttons on it, I’ve got one). Over the past few months, I’ve watched the slew of gift-giving guides come out. From traditional print media to Blogs and Facebook postings, it’s been a very generic lot of boring recommendations (from iPads, Kindles and iPods to fancy cases for iPads, Kindles and iPods). Instead of those standard/expected gifts, I thought it would be fun to make some gift recommendations for the business professional in your life that are not only unique, but the type of gifts that can also be conversation starters…

  • PlugBug. This nifty little power charger is for Apple computer users. You add this on to your Apple power supply and it enables you to charge your iPad or iPhone simultaneously with your computer. For those who travel or want to take up less plugs in the walls, this is one of those useful electronic gizmos that makes you wonder why Apple doesn’t make this standard on their own power supplies (about $35).
  • Mighty Wallet. "What is that?" is the usual reaction I get when I take out my Mighty Wallet. It’s a standard wallet but it’s made of – what looks like – paper and it comes in hundreds of designs (mine is a Star Trek comic book that looks like it’s been origami-folded into a wallet). These durable and waterproof wallets are eco-friendly and made out of Tyvek (not paper) – which is a similar material to that of a FedEx envelope. You can find them in many interesting designs (I love the one that looks like an envelope almost as much as the one that is a map of the New York City subway system). Guaranteed to be a conversation piece, I have friends who have had the same Mighty Wallet for over five years (and it’s still holding up). They are not only super slim but will allow the business exec in your life to show a little character and cool even when it’s stuffed into the Hugo Boss suit that every other executive wears (about $15).
  • Eagle Creek Traverse Pro 22. For the frequent flier on your list, nothing will help them make the road (and air) more tolerable than an Eagle Creek Traverse Pro 22. While most business professionals settle for Tumi, Travelpro or Briggs & Riley, this Eagle Creek is not only a much lighter solution (it weights 6 pounds empty while the others typically clock in at 9-12 lbs), but it also features a very practical detachable backpack (which doubles as my daypack/briefcase). The other part that I love about the Eagle Creek Traverse Pro 22, is that when flying on smaller planes that force passengers to gate-check their carry-on, the bag actually fits in the overhead bin of these smaller planes (once you have removed the backpack). On top of that Eagle Creek offers their incredible "No Matter What" warranty (about $250).
  • TextExpander. A wonderful piece of Apple-only software that is a typing shortcut utility. Instead of always re-typing content, you create customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings. The trick with TextExpander is to start every shortcut with a semi-colon and then one word that fits the longer copy (an example is ";HR"). So, when I type, “;HR” on my computer (in any piece of software – from word processing to email) it expands into a pre-written form letter. I can’t tell you how many hours of productivity TextExpander has saved. Use TextExpander to thank people for a meeting to requesting more information for a product or service, etc… It gets better when you use the iPhone app as well (about $35).
  • App gift card. When people give gift cards for iTunes, the obvious choice is to then buy some music and/or movies. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can also use those same gift cards for apps (and I’m talking about productive apps like TextExpander above… not just games). Along with apps, feel free to nudge the person to use the gift cards for books in Apple’s iBooks store as well. This season saw the release of some amazing reads (like Jim CollinsGreat By Choice or the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson) (available in many denominations where gift cards are sold).
  • The gift that keeps on giving. If the business person in your life really does have just about everything, please consider making a donation to the charity that they care most about (or introduce them to a new one). People who actually do have everything don’t typically need much, and we all know how many people on this globe really need the bare essentials just to get by. If you’re looking for something a little bit more interesting, check out what groups like Kiva, Acumen Fund, Room To Read or the local Children’s Hospital are doing to change the world. These gifts are not only gratifying to the person who receives them, but they’re actually going to make a difference to the greater good.

Happy shopping… Happy Holidays… Happy New Year…

The above post is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:


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