My first business computer was a custom built Intel 286 machine that I bought around 1993. It ran Windows 3.1. I bought it mail order through a popular PC catalog called Computer Shopper. With 8 MB of RAM and a 13” CRT monitor, I though it was pretty slick. The company who made it went out of business a year later.
Most commercial real estate veterans at the time ran their business using a Rolodex and day planner. As a fledgling industrial broker in Los Angeles, I was one of the early pioneers using a computer for desktop publishing, spreadsheet analysis and contact management. In fact, I eventually used that computer to build my old desktop product ARES for ACT.
The Internet existed, but this was a time before web browsing and email took over. It would be another year before I got my first email address through CompuServe. I used PCs for almost twenty years and dutifully upgraded through eight versions of the Windows operating system. I was a Microsoft devotee.
I switched to a Mac
Today I’m a Mac guy. I’m not one of those raving fans who love anything and everything made by Apple, though. I’m pragmatic. I transitioned out of Windows after two decades for good reasons.
Like the majority of the commercial real estate industry, I had built my business around Windows software – particularly Microsoft Office. However I was able to recreate and improve upon every Windows-based process with a Mac. My switch involved lots of research, and I’m very satisfied with the move. Here’s why I did it.
Hardcore hardware needs
The initial reason I first considered a Mac was that I wanted to plug three external monitors into a laptop. I couldn’t find a Windows laptop that could do this at the time. On a whim, I went to the Apple website and checked out the specs on a MacBook Pro.
As it turned out, this svelte looking powerhouse could do everything I needed. It was expensive though. I typically paid less than $1,000 for the best Windows machine. The Apple alternative would cost two to three times that much. What could possibly justify this outrageous price? Nothing I figured; and I was going to prove it was a rip-off.
Macs are for
Macs are made for academics and graphic artists, right? My assumption was that no Apple computer could handle all of my critical work needs. I did lots of research trying to prove that a Mac wasn’t really a capable business computer. Wow, was I wrong.
In every Windows workflow process I considered, there was a comparable or often better Mac option. You can surely find exceptions, but if you’re using software that works solely on Windows, then it may be time to ditch that legacy program anyway. I even took this opportunity to move a lot of my software to the cloud to be totally platform independent. I haven’t looked back.
Maybe there’s something to this
I had confirmed that the hardware met my needs, and that I could accomplish my traditional business processes on a Mac. Did I still want to move away from Windows, which I had come to know and love all these years? Surely the transition would cripple my productivity for weeks, and that would be impactful.
During my research, though, I discovered lots of amazingly positive feedback from other Mac users. I never saw this in the Windows world. It made me think that maybe there was something to this whole Apple thing, and that switching was more than purely functional. It was an opportunity to experience something totally new.
I made the switch
I went to the Apple website in early December. With more than a little trepidation, I ordered a 15” MacBook Pro. Then, surprisingly, I started monitoring my delivery every day with great anticipation. I had carved out several days over the holidays to make this transition, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
My Mac finally arrived. I marveled at the packaging and realized that this was part of the experience. This was no generic cardboard container. It suggested that every small detail had purpose. I was impressed so far, but now I had to get this computer working. Surely, that would consume my entire holiday.
It just works
One of the most common things I always heard from Mac users over the years was that “it just works." I always thought Windows worked pretty well. It had a tolerable number of crashes, lockups and blue screens. That’s surely to be expected with an operating system that does so much, right?
It took me about an hour to set up my Mac. That’s it. Internet and network connectivity were flawless. Connecting my monitors and printers worked the first time. I downloaded software from the App Store just like my iPhone. Hey, this was easy. Now I knew it was indeed true. Saying “it just works” was an understatement. It works phenomenally. I never knew what I was missing.
Kids these days
I spent an afternoon at a popular shared workspace in a tech hub of San Francisco recently. This place was buzzing with enthusiasm and creativity as a new generation of entrepreneurs was presumably creating our future.
Seeing this exciting atmosphere punctuated by glowing Apple logos everywhere said it all. It told me that kids these days, whom I now freely admit are much smarter than me, preferred a Mac. This wasn’t a fad.
That really hit home. My decision to switch wasn’t some kind of mid-life technology crisis. It was well thought out. Fortunately, I chose the platform that’s fueling the innovation of the next big things. I was equally pleased to see that all those grungy t-shirts I’ve kept all these years are back in style now too. I was hipper than I thought.
I remember the “Think different” slogan that Apple popularized some years ago. It didn’t resonate with me then. I couldn’t get over the idea that “Think different” seemed like bad grammar.
As I look back now I realize that “different” isn’t an adverb as in “think differently”. It’s a noun like “think…different”. Apple wasn’t trying to tell us how to think; they were suggesting we consider an alternative to our traditional computing paradigm.
As much as anything, switching to a Mac triggered some latent inspiration in me to improve all kinds of technology processes in my life. I used it to create my ClientLook commercial real estate CRM. I work more efficiently, and I’m far more productive in less time.
It may be that getting a fresh start with a new computing paradigm could have the same affect on you. It’s easier than you think. Chances are that you’ll discover exciting ways to grow your business just by causing your brain to stretch a little. Give it a try and let me know how you do.
By: Michael Griffin
Connect with Michael on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mgriffin
Find out more about ClientLook here: http://www.clientlook.com/
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