My Current Amazon Obsession (And It's Not Shopping)

I love my Amazon Echo.     There’s something liberating about saying a command out loud and having someone carry out the request immediately.

In particular, I love Amazon’s Flash Briefing function.   

I like it so much, I built one.  More on that later.

If you’re not familiar with a Flash Briefing, imagine that you’re a really important person and whenever you give the command, you have a room full of experts who take turns briefing you on a bunch of topics that you chose.  

I use it every single morning as part of my daily routine.   It’s one of the best ways to multitask while you’re in the shower, eating breakfast, making lunch for the kids or whatever.

I thought I’d share my list of Flash Briefings because I get so much value out of them.   I find that most of my friends who bought an Echo only use them to play music or don’t use them at all.   

In their defense, a voice-prompted user interface is still a really new concept and good content is hard to come by.   So as a point of entry, I like to help people get their Flash Briefing set up. It usually helps them realize instant value from a device that they may have given up on.  

So here is my content stack in the exact order that the information is delivered.   I find that to be really important to keep me engaged as it prevents me from saying “Alexa Skip!” too frequently.  

  1. Today’s Forecast - I use this so I know how to dress.

  2. FlashCrypto - I’ve been a crypto investor for several years now and while I don’t watch the markets that closely anymore, I like to know how Bitcoin is doing because it tends to move the market up or down.

  3. National Calendar - I enabled this one in case I need a quick small talk icebreaker.  “Hey did you know that today is National Margarita Day”. That usually makes people smile.

  4. Horoscope of the Day - this one is for entertainment purposes only.   Please don’t judge me :)

  5. Trump’s Recent Twitter - speaking of entertainment...this skill reads President Trump’s most recent Tweets.  I added this so I know what’s happening in Washington and if the world is about to end.  

  6. Gary Vee 365 - this is for my daily dose of motivation.  Gary is a super high energy guy who doles out really practical advice about hiring, growing a business, dealing with people, etc.  I don’t believe everything he says but he wakes me up.

  7. Harvard Business Review: Management Tip of the Day - this is a new one that I’m trying.  It’s a little dry compared to Gary Vee but I’ll give it a couple weeks.  

  8. Cheddar - there are tons and tons of “News” skills on Amazon.  Most of them are terrible. I find Cheddar to have the same content as the other guys but they deliver it in an entertaining way.  Think Entertainment Tonight meets the Nightly News. They do sprinkle in an advertisement but it’s well integrated. I normally delete apps that have ads.

  9. The Daily - I mainly listen to this because it’s so incredibly well done.  Even if you don’t believe in the political slant of the New York Times, you’ll be in awe of the quality of the research and guests.  

  10. BBC World Service - I listen to this to get an international perspective and a somewhat non-partisan view of the news.  

  11. Things To Try - this skill helps me learn about new and cool things you can do with your Amazon Echo.

  12. Hashtag Trending - I think it’s important to know what’s going on in social media land.  This skill keeps me on my toes, mainly so my kids don’t think I’m a total drip.

  13. Recruit Differently - the last skill in my list is one that I built!  It’s basically me reading short posts from my blog or from other blogs that I find interesting.   I built it mainly out of curiosity of how to build an Amazon skill but it also scratched an itch that I think a lot of people have.  Which is “How do I keep up with good blog posts when I don’t have time to read.” It’s still really raw and I’m working on improving it but when you get a chance, activate my little skill and give a good review if you like it.  

About once per month, I reevaluate the content on my Flash Briefing based on a few factors. Mainly, is the author putting out high-quality content and do they do it regularly? If they have annoying advertisements, I usually delete them immediately.   

I’ve probably deactivated fifty skills and keep about 10-15 in my rotation.

While we’re still early in when it comes to having good voice apps, I think a really good use case for audio is the Amazon Flash Briefing.   For the record, I think the integration of voice into everyday devices will be the most important productivity advancement of our generation.

I don’t think it’s important that you “get in early” as a User, but if you are a brand or a content producer, I think you should at least be sampling it as a medium.   

Have any good Flash Briefings or Amazon Skills I should try?