My favorite products of 2016

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As a professional investor and lover of things, I’m constantly testing new products and sharing my thoughts with coworkers, colleagues, family and friends. This is a daily ritual and one that I’m passionate about. On occasion, I’ll fall in love with a product because it fills a void and finds a way into my routine.

Thankfully, 2016 was packed with super useful and enjoyable products that were made with an insane amount of time, love and care. These products connected me, challenged me, educated me, inspired me, and even fed me. Below is a fairly comprehensive list of the digital and physical products that I enjoyed and couldn’t have lived without in 2016.

Apps and Digital Services

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  • Overcast.fm: I spend hours each day listening to podcasts while I’m wandering around the city. Overcast is my go to podcast player.
  • Digit: my favorite automated savings bot. Over the last few years, Digit has helped me save thousands of dollars without having to think or plan.
  • Audible: In addition to podcasts, I enjoying listening to audiobooks. Audible has a great selection at an affordable monthly subscription.
  • Zwift: I’m able to keep my legs in shape during the winter thanks to this virtual world and community for indoor cycling.
  • Waze: This year I put nearly 20,000 miles on my car. I’ve turned to Waze nearly ever mile not only to save time but also to avoid speed traps and to receive roadside alerts.
  • Amazon: It seems like Amazon packages find their way to my doorstep and office on a weekly basis. I’m hooked.
  • Calm: With dozens of meditation apps out there, I turn to Calm to time and track my meditations. I enjoy its simplicity and range of features including breathing exercises.
  • Strava: I track all of my bike rides and runs using this app. My favorite part of Strava is the community that provides encouragement and challenges me to pick up my game.
  • Apptiv: Over the summer, I started to run again but I found myself having a hard time getting back into shape. Apptiv’s audio workouts have helped me increase my speed, stamina, flexibility and general health.
  • Outlook: I practically live in my email and calendar. I’ve tried just about every productivity app on the market and found Outlook to be the simplest and most reliable.
  • Brain.fm: Whenever I need to focus and get into a zone while I work, I turn to Brain.fm. Their audio programs are designed to stimulate the brain and help the listener focus.
  • Pandora: I found myself completely overwhelmed by Spotify in 2016 so I decided to give Pandora another try. I’m glad I did.
  • Giphy*: Very few sites bring me as much joy. Who doesn’t love receiving and giving gifs?
  • Dashlane: I found myself reusing passwords and storing them in a document on my hard drive. This lax approach was a security risk so I turned to Dashlane to secure my digital life. I’m glad I did.
  • Instagram: Still my favorite social app. Thankfully, this app wasn’t ruined in 2016 by fake news or pro-or-anti-Trump rants.

Connected Devices

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  • Eero: Who doesn’t love wall-to-wall wifi. Eero blanketed our house with a fast and reliable wireless connection. No more dead spots.
  • Snap Spectacles: The surprise hit of 2016. What a fun product. I’ve never been the type to capture video but that has changed thanks to Spectacles.
  • Kindle: Still my favorite reading device on the planet. Nothing comes close.
  • EO1 by Electric Objects*: A beautiful display for digital art. One of my favorite products of the year.
  • Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones: Whether I’m on a plane or at work, I turn to these headphones to drown out all surrounding the nose and deliver high quality audio.
  • Apple TV: While I feel this device has fallen short of expectations and its potential, we use this product almost daily to watch movies, TV shows and YouTube. It has helped us cut the chord.
  • Wahoo Kickr: This smart bike trainer helps my legs stay conditioned over the winter. The Kickr is loaded with sensors and software to replicate the sensation of riding on the road and apply leg crushing resistance.

Physical Products

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  • Hydro Flask: Earlier this year, I found myself wasting money on bottled water and accumulating waste so I invested in a Hydro Flask. I never leave home without it.
  • Trek Domane 5.2: My big bro has been cycling for years and finally convinced me to make an investment in a road bike. With the help of my friends at FitWerx, I selected the Domane and couldn’t have been happier. In 2016, I rode 1,5000+ miles without any issues.
  • Foam Roller: The perfect companion that helps my body recover from tough workouts. I can confidently say that not one product has brought me so much pain and joy as the foam roller.
  • All Birds: These wool running shoes were a welcome addition to my wardrobe this fall. Probably the most comfortable and warmest shoes I’ve ever owned.
  • Topo Designs Fleece: The warmest and coziest piece of clothing that I purchased in 2016.

Entertainment

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  • Hamilton: Everything about this show is genius. I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. I’m obsessed.
  • Captain Fantastic: Probably my favorite movie of the year.
  • FIFA 2016: I don’t think there’s one game that has brought me as much excitement and heartbreak at this one. EA Sports continues to deliver a masterpiece year in and year out.
  • Grand Theft Auto 5: While I don’t like violence and don’t have much free time to play video games, I’m having a blast playing the latest installment of GTA.

Newsletters

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  • The Exponential View: One of my favorite new newsletters of the year curated by Azeem Azhar. It covers emerging technologies that drive exponential change.
  • Rad Reads: A solid weekly newsletter by Khe Hy that aggregates articles on living a fulfilled life.
  • TheSkimm*: My go-to morning news briefing.
  • CB Insights: A daily email that covers company financings, industry research and other tech trends.
  • Launch Ticker: A daily email that covers general tech news, product launches and transactions.
  • Hip Sobriety: I read everything Holly Whitaker publishes because she’s so authentic and passionate about helping people overcome challenges in life like addiction and depression. She’s a bad ass.

Podcasts

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  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast: A podcast devoted to leading and managing organizations. Easily my favorite new podcast of 2016.
  • This Week In Startups: While the host, Jason Calcanis, can be annoying at times, the interviews are generally excellent and insightful about startups and trends in technology.
  • Reboot: A podcast that showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. Listening to these is very therapeutic and helps me empathize with others in the startup ecosystem.
  • Origins by Notation Capital: A podcast about Limited Partners, the people who back Venture Capital firms. Good insight into an area that doesn’t get much coverage in the venture ecosystem.
  • How I Built This: a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Super inspiring and interesting to see how some of the best companies were built.
  • 20 Minute VC: a podcast hosted by the youngest and hardest working venture capitalist, Harry Stebbings. Harry talks with VCs, founders and startups execs.

Books

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  • Sapiens: A detailed history of homo sapiens. Easily my favorite book of 2016.
  • Powerhouse: The untold history of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Changed the way I think about the entertainment business and entrepreneurship.
  • Leading: Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager of Manchester United, shares his perspective on leadership and building sustainable winning organizations. Reminded me how principles, values and discipline drive long term sustained success.
  • Complexity: This books documented the creation of The Santa Fe Institute and examines how the top minds in computer science, physics, economics and biology came together to examine complexity theory. Reinforced how everything in the universe is somehow interconnected and is driving towards more complexity.
  • Healing & Recovery: A collection of holistic lectures focused  on recovery in its fullest sense — mental, physical, psychological and spiritual. Realize the mind controls our general health more than we believe.
  • When Breath Becomes Air: After a young, talented neuroscientist is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he penned this memoir about life and death. Insanely moving. A good reminder how fragile life is.
  • Supermind: A nice overview of how transcendental meditation boots performance and leads to a happier life. As someone who has a daily practice, it was fascinating to learn about the science behind meditation.
  • Work Rules: Lazlo Bock, Former SVP of People at Google, provides a behind the scenes view into how Google manages Human Resources. After reading this book, I recommend it to all of my founders because it’s packed with useful tips and strategies.

Food

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  • Justin’s Maple Almond Butter: My single favorite food in the world. I’d eat some with every meal if I could.
  • Ritual Chocolate: My favorite small batch chocolatier that I discovered when I was visiting Boulder.
  • Lofted Coffee: I’ve fallen in love with this roaster out of Brooklyn. Every cup of coffee I’ve brewed from their beans has been nearly perfect.
  • Fever Tree Ginger Beer: Since I don’t drink alcohol, Fever Tree and a slice of lime is my beverage of choice.
  • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: I’ve tried hundreds of ice cream brands all over the globe. Van Leeuwen delivers the most consistent, simplest and highest quality ice cream I’ve ever tasted. I’m a fan boy.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I’d love to know which products you love and / or I should try in 2017. Happy new year.

*Full Disclosure: RRE is an investor in Giphy, Electric Objects and theSkimm

The Author

A mindful VC in NYC

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