Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Asus Chromebox CN60: A review

Recently Newmind received our first ASUS Chromebox. Although we didn’t get the version with an Intel Core i3, we did get the model with an Intel Celeron processor. The Celeron performed well with every task we threw at it, playing 18 YouTube videos at once before becoming too slow to load another. Scrolling through the average website ( with several tabs open resulted in a smooth experience with no discernable issues.

If you want to find out more of what Tyler has to say, read further here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Getting on board with mobile apps: Build IT Session 1

For this year’s Build IT Together event, we were fortunate to have President of Kalamazoo-based Maestro, Jen Randall, come and speak in one of our sessions. Unfortunately, for confidentiality reasons, we are not able to publish the video of her speaking onto our site. That just means you’ll have to come to the event next year so you don’t miss out on any info! Here is a summary of her talk.

Our favorite moments from Build IT Together

Around mid-June we held our second Build IT Together event in downtown Kalamazoo. Our CEO was the Keynote speaker, presenting on Chrome for business. Session 1 speakers included Jen Randall talking about mobile apps and businesses and Daniel Jefferies on innovation in the workplace. Session 2 speakers were Matt Mace presenting on using big data in businesses as well as Hans Erickson talking about developing an IT strategy.

With all of these quality speakers and opportunities to collaborate and network with others in the area, we were bound to have a great time! Here were some of our favorite moments.

Google I/O keynote rundown [2014]

This year, Google I/O kicked off on Tuesday, June 24th. Many new and exciting features were released in the opening Keynote so we thought we would give you an overview of those updates. Some of our favorites were: new authentication features for your smartphone and Chromebook, Android Auto, Google Drive for work and Native Office Editing.

Check out their announcements here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Google Apps Monthly Updates Early Release [July] - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our Google Apps monthly update for July. Many of these features were released at the Google I/O conference during the last week of June. If you still haven’t read Part 1 of the update, click here.

Notable new features:

  • Google Drive for Work
  • New Quickoffice integrations
  • Dedicated home pages for Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides

Google Apps Monthly Updates Early Release [July] - Part 1

Thx for the photo @carlosluna 

Here you’ll find the official Google Apps updates from the month of June, as well as some updates that came out at the very end of May. We’ve decided to release this a bit early due to the amount of updates that surfaced after the Google I/O conference. To check out Part 2 of this month’s update, click here.

Notable new features:

  • Enabling Google + premium features for everyone
  • New spam management system
  • New visual reporting for Admins
  • Cloud-based migration of email to Google Apps

Friday, June 27, 2014

Developing an IT strategy: Build IT Session 2

Hans Erickson, CIO and Senior VP from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, came and spoke at Build IT Together this year about what it takes to develop an IT strategy. If you’re in the IT field, check out a summarization of his presentation here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflecting on my Newmind internship

Many times, the term ‘internship’ strikes up certain images: a college student or recent grad mastering the art of filing, hanging out all day by the copying machine, making coffee runs and washing windows. I can tell you that my Marketing internship at Newmind was nothing close to that. In fact, seeing paper in the office at all was a rare occurrence.

To hear more of what Meghan has to say regarding her experience with us, click here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meet Newmind: Nicolas Yarosz

This is our second post in our “Meet Newmind” blog series. To read our first one about Newminder Steve Chang, click here

Polish. His last name. I figured you might wonder, because I did. You know who also held that same last name? Teddy Yarosz, Nick’s Great Uncle who won the World Middleweight Boxing Championship in 1934. Pretty cool little fact, huh?

But alright, this blog is about Nick. As for him, well, he’s not exactly a sports fan.
“My life is my hobby,” he said. 
So what has his life looked like so far? Find out here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tablets with Google Play for Edu: An overview for teachers

Thanks for the photo @lunarandplanetaryinstitute

Wait, Pluto’s not a planet?!

Ok, while this is probably not news to most, I’m sure it still comes as a surprise to young students referencing dusty ‘ole books from the library. It makes you wonder, what other outdated information are they consuming from old resources?

Now, I’ve got nothing against books. However, if I was a teacher, I would want my students to have access to the most accurate and up to date information that’s out there! I would not only want them to know that Pluto is no longer a planet, but that within the past few weeks, scientists have even discovered a “new cosmic neighbor.”

How can we improve learning and increase access to resources IN the classroom?

We’d like to introduce you to Tablets with Google Play for Education. 

Innovation in Business: Build IT Session 1

Newmind’s Founder, Daniel Jefferies, spoke on how to manage innovation in the workplace at our Build IT event. Are you an innovator? Is it hard to get support for an idea from your peers? Why is there so much resistance and how can you work around that?

All of these ideas and more from his presentation will be touched on here.

Big Data & Businesses: Build IT Session 2

Matthew Mace, Founder and CEO of BlueGranite, Inc., was another speaker at our Build IT Together event this June. BlueGranite improves businesses by utilizing data to make effective decisions.

 To read a summary of his presentation, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Visualizing the workplace with 7Geese

Make things better

In the previous blog 4 essentials to engage your team, I mentioned how one of Newmind’s Core Values is to ‘make things better.’ I wanted to find a way to increase the prevalence of vision, connectedness, progress and recognition within Newmind. How can they be visualized and cemented for everyone to see? We adopted 7Geese as the solution. Only having used it for two months now, we can already see great benefits in how it impacts the workplace.

To read more, click here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Samsung Chromebook 2 (11.6"): A review

A couple weeks ago, Newmind received our first Samsung Chromebook 2. This faux leather encased Chromebook is the newest addition to Samsung’s family of Chromebooks, marketed as a successor of the popular Samsung 303. Besides some initial difficulty with connecting to our office Wi-Fi, we have been putting the Chromebook 2 through its paces to judge whether it is a worthy successor to the 303, and whether it’s worth its $319.99 price tag.

Click here to see what we found out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

4 essentials to engage your team

One of Newmind’s Core Values is: Make things better. As the CEO, I’m also continually thinking about how to make things better not only for the company, but for the employees within it. Those in leadership positions have to ask the question: How can we improve the work experience of our employees? After reading some material by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, and from what I’ve gathered through other experience, it clicked with me that there are four things which are important to have in the workplace to engage employees.

Click here to find out what those four things are.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Google Apps Monthly Updates [June] - Identity verification & hangouts in Outlook

Notable new features:

  • Identity verification to keep your account safe
  • Improved options for setting default & custom retention periods in Google Vault
  • Access Hangout video calls from Microsoft Outlook®

Click here to see all of the new features and read about them in more detail.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Windows XP hack: A Newmind yay or nay?

Thanks for the GIF @hellocatfood

Windows XP sure knows how to stay in the headlines! It all started when Microsoft officially ended support for this old operating system in April. Shortly after that, there was all that buzz around the Internet Explorer vulnerability, which, despite their claims to no longer support it, Microsoft actually provided a patch for Windows XP users anyway.

Now, a hack released by betanews has been grabbing attention left and right. This hack is intended for Windows XP users as a way in which to get free security updates for the next 5 years.

What do we have to say about it?

Find out here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Newmind Rests & Reflects

Photo by @nicholasputz

One of Newmind’s Core Values is to Rest & Reflect. Working too much can cause anyone to burn out. Taking vacations and spending time with family, friends, nature, your couch, etc. is encouraged! Even on workdays, taking a couple minutes to clear your head every now and again actually helps your workflow. So, in light of Memorial Day Weekend, how have Newminders been resting and reflecting, you ask?

Find out here!

Monday, May 26, 2014

BUILD IT Together

This year marks the 3rd Build IT Together event. The event page has all the info about the event, but I wanted to share a bit more about the event that the hard facts maybe can’t communicate.

Idea for the event 

We got the idea for the event from the entrepreneurial community. We noticed that entrepreneurs are very collaborative and found it to be a strength of that community and something we could bring over to IT.  We decided to call it Build IT Together to help show that we want everyone to work together and share experiences and knowledge so that we can help build the technology community in Michigan.

To find out more about this event and how to sign up, click here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Must-have Apps for your Memorial Day weekend

Photo by @Atin800

The time is here! Still wrapping up plans for your Memorial Day Weekend? Maybe you’re finalizing the grocery list for your road trip or keep talking about the loads of laundry that need to be done...Those are things on my to-do list at least. Either way, whether you’ll be putting some miles on your tires or staying in the vicinity of your zip code all weekend, here are some mobile apps to enhance your vacation experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

'Tread lightly' Windows XP users

Photo by @pictureperfectpose

It has been over one month now since Microsoft has ended support for Windows XP. This means you can say ‘Goodbye’ to automatic updates and technical assistance for this 12-year-old system.

Click here to for recommendations on how to keep your information protected.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Meet Newmind: Steve Chang

This is our first article in our "Meet Newmind" series. Stay tuned for future blogs and continue to get to know our team.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter shake from the Alamo Drafthouse in Kalamazoo, MI. That’s this Newminder’s flavor of the month. I had to test it out for myself, you know, to see if his claims were justified...

They are. Definitely.

To read more about Steve Chang - husband, father, coffee drinker in the morning and Jasmine tea drinker by night, click here. You just might get lucky and find some more Kzoo recommendations.

Friday, May 2, 2014

IE - Put a patch on it!

Thanks for the photo @hashir

Hopefully you’re already in the know about the huge security flaw that has been discovered for all versions (6-11) of Internet Explorer. Maybe you’re not. Maybe all you know is that IE has been having some issues.

Well, to keep it short, IE versions 6-11 were experiencing a vulnerability where - via malicious websites - hackers had the ability to take over your computer. By doing so, they would be able to create a separate user, delete files, and basically anything else someone can do with full control over the whole device.

Crap, right?

Well, IE has finally provided a patch. Find out how to stay protected here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

MACUL: Recommended apps, extensions & add-ons

This is our second and last MACUL 2014 post. Make sure to check out our first post here: Chromebook Q & A.


Flubaroo. One of the Google add-ons mentioned along with numerous other apps and extensions discussed at the MACUL conference. In case you missed this info in the first MACUL post, Newmind Group led a roundtable discussion at this conference held in Grand Rapids, MI last month. There were about 2,000 educators and 150 exhibitors who attended, many of whom participated in our discussions around Chromebooks and - as our title gives away - apps, extensions, and add-ons.

This simple question was asked: What kinds of apps and tools are you leveraging for your classes that you would recommend?

To find out their recommendations, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

4 things to know when deploying chromebooks

"Chromebooks Updating" by @kjarrett

This is the second part of a two-part blog series about purchasing and deploying chromebooks. You can find the first blog here.

Alright, so you’ve already made your decision on what kind of Chromebooks you want. Now they’ve been shipped on their way! What now?

Unfortunately, the process is hardly over - and may never be. Deploying and managing a fleet of Chromebooks (or any device really) takes some time and continual effort. This is where we hope to make things a little bit easier for you.

Based on our experience in the field, coupled with our own research, here are some tips and resources for you when it comes time to deploy this hardware from heaven.

You can find out the 4 things to know here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Collaborate like a Linchpin - Linchpin series part 5

"Star Trek: McCoy" by +JD Hancock 

This is the last part of our Linchpin series. You can catch up to speed by starting with our first post here.

Seth Godin’s book Linchpin contains some inspiring ideas regarding an individual’s approach to work. But what if you’re working on a team? Some people enjoy teamwork; others loathe it. What separates awesome teams from agonizing teams?

For this article, I’ll be using examples from three of my favorite teams: the 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team (AKA the Dream Team), the crew of the Starship Enterprise, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Read further on how to collaborate like a Linchpin here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

MACUL: Chromebook Q & A

"MACUL 2011" by Kate Ter Haar

Were you one of the 2,000 educators or 150 exhibitors that attended the MACUL 2014 Conference last month in Grand Rapids? If so, I hope you were able to find it beneficial! If not - no worries - we’re going to provide some re-cap in this first of what will be a two-part blog series. 

Newmind Group was able to lead a roundtable discussion on Google Apps and Chromebooks, the latter of which we’ll focus on for now. Below are some of the questions that were asked at the discussion along with answers provided by Newminders and other educators and tech directors who were present. I hope this will be a useful resource for those of you with similar questions or for those of you who were at this discussion and with all that was talked about, just flat-out forgot some of the items that were discussed.

Don’t worry, we don’t hold grudges. Enjoy!

 Click here to read the rest of this post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Add art to your work - Linchpin series part 4

"Mother of Pearl Artist Ahmet Sezen" by Christian Senger

This is the fourth part of a five part series inspired by Seth Godin's book Linchpin. Make sure you read the first part giving an overview of the 4 tips to build a linchpin team.

"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist." -- Albert Einstein

There are a lot of factories out there - maybe more than you know. Seth Godin defines a factory as “a place where people go to do what they are told and earn a paycheck.” It is hard to excel in this ‘factory’ and virtually impossible to find the passion needed to become an artist. To become an artist, you need the autonomy to create something new and take on the status quo. To build a team of artists, you must help people cultivate what they are passionate about or even guide them to something they can become passionate about.

Click here to read more on becoming passionate about your work.

Monday, April 14, 2014

iPads vs. chromebooks in a 1:1 environment

"The future of books" by Johan Larsson

Many schools are looking into 1:1 programs and the specific devices that can make up the foundation of these programs. Having access to a personal Chromebook as well, I would like to share my experience as a student in a high school that is beginning a 1:1 program with iPads.

I am acutely aware of many of the curriculum changes that these programs require. The school that I attend chose iPads for their 1:1 program and over the past several months they have performed to expectations. Teachers have begun to utilize them in many classes while constantly combating the inevitable distraction that iPads games provide to some students. (If you were given the choice of participating in class or playing games, you would probably end up playing games in class once and a while too.)

Throughout the course of the year I have noticed many differences between Chromebooks and iPads in terms of usability and factors of physical form.

You can find out about these differences here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 things to know when purchasing chromebooks

Photo by Newmind intern Meghan Muffett

Every day, we need to make choices. Mini Wheats or Cheerios? A right turn or left? Whether at the grocery store or on the road, life presents us with opportunities - both small and large - to act as a decision-maker. With so many options available on the market today, choosing a computer probably creates a little bit more pressure than say, making the right cereal choice. Because of this, really the first decision to make is the decision to educate yourself on the wide range of products that are out there. Well, in this first of a two-part blog series, I’m going to try and help out with just that for those of you considering choosing Chromebooks as your perfect companion.

There’s no doubt that Chromebooks are awesome. The evidence speaks for itself. Whether it’s by saving time, money, increasing collaboration, etc., schools and businesses can really benefit in profound ways. That being said, it is important to do the proper research and make sure Chromebooks are able to do all that you need from a computer. Not only that, but making sure to purchase the most suitable kind (since there are many models) and preparing your school or business for deployment is key. When it comes to purchasing Chromebooks, here are 5 tips to keep in mind and better equip you for a seamless experience - the overarching motto being: begin with the end in mind.

Click here to find out the 5 tips...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Overcome Fear - Linchpin Series Part 3

Safe on land, Newminder Nicolas Yarosz demonstrates the proper way to enter Lake Michigan as fellow Newminder James Duke looks on.

This is the third part of a 5 part series inspired by Seth Godin's book Linchpin. Be sure to catch up and read the first post with an overview of the 4 aspects of a linchpin.

Hit the Beach

Most of you can probably relate to this scenario: It’s a Saturday and one of the first hot summer days of the year. You’ve been dreaming of hitting the beach with your friends since the first few rays of spring sunshine. A few phone calls later, you and your best friends are packed in a car with the windows down, music blasting, speeding towards Lake Michigan or some other inferior body of water.

The excitement builds as the car screeches into a parking spot. Everyone jumps out and hauls over the dunes. You begin that tip-toe shuffle over the hot sand, shedding clothing piece by piece until you finally reach the shoreline.

And then you stop.

 Click here to read more about how to "Overcome Fear" by James Duke

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Newmind Group is Mother Approved

Happy Mom by @|vv@ldzen| via Flickr

Kalamazoo, MI -- Mothers all over Kalamazoo are exclaiming in approval over Newmind’s recent naming to Nine Lives Media’s 7th annual MSPmentor Top 501 at #214, a list identifying the world’s top 501 managed service providers (MSPs), leading one mother to exclaim,
“Those sweet boys deserve a top 10 rank. They were so nice and patient with me as we worked through copying and pasting in that Googley thing.”
"Our focus has always been on customer satisfaction and have seen very positive results with a 97% client retention rate over the last 7 years," said Matthew Vollmar, Newmind CEO. "Not only did we see 100% growth over the last year, but more importantly we’ve measured higher customer happiness which leads to longer and deeper relationships. And who do we need deeper relationships with more than our mothers? (Love you mom!)”

Read More about how mother's love Newmind Group.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Become an Expert - Linchpin Series Part 2

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” ― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? 

"Student in Silhouette" by @mikebaird via Flickr

Forget about 10,000 hours

Everyone seems to think Malcolm Gladwell told us we need 10,000 hours or the equivalent of 10-20 years practice to become an expert. This is a misquote. Gladwell said:

“To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years. And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” — p. 41

The 10,000 hours he is referring to is the average time it takes to become the absolute best of the best in the world. Most of us don’t need a movie made about our lives. Becoming an expert in our field relative to our environment and competition is good enough, right? Shoot for the moon but don’t feel like a failure if no one calls you G.O.A.T.

Click through to read the full article about becoming an expert.

Ben Morris is the reigning Funniest Newminder (yes that’s a thing), a father, and is a new member of Newmind Group's Google Apps team. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Western Michigan University and is determined to uncover the secrets of how humor can help organizational communication.

Ben loves the great outdoors and spends his time outside of work camping and boating with his wife and three children. Contact him at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

4 tips to build a linchpin team

“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

What is a “linchpin”?

A linchpin doesn’t play it safe. The future is filled with uncertainty and as Seth Godin’s quote points out, by playing it safe you are denying yourself possibilities. It may be difficult to stay motivated or focused because it’s such a long time-frame, but taking ownership of our own destiny really isn’t as hard as we may think.

We published a great series about managing small teams which described leadership as an expedition with no map or proof that the destination exists. While paying attention to priorities, data, rhythm, and the workplan of your team will help point you in the right direction, we believe that you and your team should also strive to become a linchpin within the organization.

So what makes a team or department a linchpin within an organization?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chromebook Updates [March 2014] - hands free searching & ethernet configurations in the admin console

Notable new features include:
  • Hands Free Voice Search
  • Admin Console Updates - Ethernet configurations & new device policy
  • Stable Release list
Full release notes & Sources Below

What events are you attending in 2014?

We just attended MACUL in Grand Rapids, MI and met hundreds of teachers that are passionate about integrating tech with education. Events can inspire and spread great ideas fast and we want to share the best events with you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We're Ranked #214 in the World

Yes, in the WORLD!

The MSPMentor Top 501 was released on March 3rd. Newmind was placed at #214! If you account for only North America Newmind jumps to #167!

The MSPmentor 501 report is based on data from MSPmentor’s global online survey, conducted October-December 2013. The MSPmentor 501 report recognizes top managed service providers based on a range of metrics, including annual managed services revenue growth, revenue per employee, managed services offered and customer devices managed.

Read More

Matthew Vollmar is the CEO of Newmind Group.

Matt is passionate about leadership, service excellence and financial nerdery. In his spare time, Matt helps herd three beautiful and very active children. His running hobby helps.

Monday, March 10, 2014

No internet connectivity? [Solved]

Did you lose internet too?
I think our connection just failed.
Aww, I was right in the middle of an upload!
"Lunchtime @ Work" by @gemsling via flickr

For us, and for most everyone, maintaining a stable internet connection is akin to keeping the lights on. We absolutely need it to do our jobs. It’s our communications, our tool sets, our customer databases, our everything. We’re all cloud here, but even if your office isn’t cloud-based, you still need the web as much as we do at Newmind. A day without email brings most businesses to a crawl, and can cost a lot of money.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Google Apps Updates [March 2014] - Cleanup hijacked Chrome extensions

Notable new features include:
  • Search emails by size
  • New Activity Stream in Google Drive
  • Hijacked Extensions - cleaning up bad apples
Full release notes below...

Newmind State of Google Apps 2014 Survey

We invite you to participate in the "State of Google Apps" 2014 survey. Join your peers in this anonymous survey and gain insights into:

  • Most popular integrations
  • Usage statistics
  • Device access trends

Monday, February 24, 2014

3 Tips to make the most out of a conference or expo

Conferences can be daunting. Tons of people and vendors bombarding your senses. We’re going to be at 2014 MACUL Conference in March, presenting in a pre-conference session, where over 2000 educators will come together to exchange experiences teaching with technology and ~150 exhibitors will com together to share a ton of valuable info and we want to make sure you get everything you want from the event.

We reached to a few educators via twitter to find out what every Macul attendee should do. What we learned was a great set of tips that can help you get the most out of any event you attend.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chromebook Updates [February 2014] - Deprovision a device, flash player security updates,

What events are you attending in 2014?

We just attended MACUL in Grand Rapids, MI and met hundreds of teachers that are passionate about integrating tech with education. Events can inspire and spread great ideas fast and we want to share the best events with you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Data tells Secrets.

This is part 3 of my series on the minimal framework I use for managing small teams. It was originally published to my Medium blog. Checkout an overview of the framework in part 1 and a closer look at Priorities in part 2 if you have a minute.

Basic guidelines for measuring progress on your team’s priorities

Oh, Hi! Thanks for starting to read this post. Now stop reading and listen. Close your eyes if it helps.

What did you hear?

If you listen closely you can hear…. Data.

It is telling you secrets. Secrets about the health of your team. Secrets about your customers. Secrets about what is going to happen in the future.

Are you listening?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Google Apps Updates [February] - Send to G+ contacts, track doc changes, new sign-ing

Notable new features include:
  • Reach more people you know - Send email to G+ contacts
  • More easily track document changes - New activity stream in Drive
  • New sign-in page - New sign-on page rolls out
Full release notes below...

Newmind State of Google Apps 2014 Survey

We invite you to participate in the "State of Google Apps" 2014 survey. Join your peers in this anonymous survey and gain insights into:

  • Most popular integrations
  • Usage statistics
  • Device access trends

Ask your questions at the MACUL 2014 Conference rountable session

Join Newmind Group at the EDU Computing roundtable event, at MACUL Conference 2014 on March 12th, where you will have the opportunity to learn from other educators and education technology leaders. Learn “best practices” and share ideas and experiences with other Michigan public and private schools that have successfully deployed 1:1 programs in a roundtable discussion.

There are at least 10 expos a year in Michigan dedicated to the education space, not counting national expos. Due to the current technology environment all of them touch on technology in some way.

What does it usually look like? A schedule of sessions where a single speaker or pair of speakers give a presentation for 60min & impart information to session attendees.

Newmind has served more than 900 public and private sector clients across North America. These clients include over 300 schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations that have purchased Chromebooks, charging carts, and ChromeOS training. In all that experience we’ve learned that the more people who are able to contribute - more can be learned.

There are many schools in Michigan that have deployed 1:1 environments. Others have experience deploying network infrastructure and still others have great Professional Development programs. With all this experience, there are still schools that have yet to embrace technology, but they want to. What would happen if we put all the knowledge and curiosity into a room together?!

The EDU Computing roundtable event will be a live discussion where the attendees decide the topics discussed and also provide insights into technology solutions. To ensure we touch on your topic we ask that you register by February 18th. We will reach out to our 800+ educational clients to invite members of the education community to the roundtable event to share their experience.

We want this roundtable session to be valuable for you. To do that we need to know what you hope to gain from the sessions. Some topics we hear questions about most often include:

  • End User support
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Professional Faculty Development
  • Software Integration
  • Infrastructure Development

Register by February 18th to ensure your topic is covered during the roundtable session.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kill good ideas. How I set priorities.

This post was originally published to Daniel Jefferies' Medium blog feed.
“Killing bad ideas isn’t that hard — lots of companies, even bad companies, are good at that. What is really hard — and a hallmark of great companies — is killing good ideas.” — Steve Jobs

I first read this quote in a great article in Harvard Business Review back in 2010 and it really stuck with me. The author went on to explain that “for any single good idea to succeed, it needs a lot of resources, time, and attention, and so only a few ideas can be developed fully. The challenge is to be tough enough to do the pruning so that the survivors have a chance of being implemented properly and reaching their full potential.”

As we discussed in my previous post, good priorities are the first step to choosing what data we want to measure, finding your team’s rhythm and developing a focused workplan.

I have essentially adopted the quote above as my guiding principal when I approach Priorities. If I sense that our team is beginning to lose focus, I start hunting for some good ideas to kill.

There are additional guidelines that I use for choosing good goals and priorities to guide the team. Here they are:

Priorities should be big

Save the minute detail for you workplan. Priorities should be broad strokes. They are what point your little ship in the right direction. Focus on the big picture at this stage. If you haven't already, it might be good to think about the entire life of your company, what is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal for the entire life of the company? Now pull back from that and make a priority for the coming year or quarter that supports that goal but is achievable in the shorter term.

Priorities should be few

Dieter Rams, the great industrial designer, has 10 principles of good design. The 10th, and my personal favorite, is “as little design as possible”. Michelangelo was quoted as saying that he “set his sculptures free” by removing all the stone that did not belong. Priorities are best created in a similar reductive process. If you can work with a single priority that is excellent. I try to limit my teams to never more than three but always as few as possible.

Priorities should be qualitative as well as quantitative

Often, particularly in sales driven teams, there is a temptation to always make priorities and goals that are some quantitative target. ”10% increase in revenue” or “30 new customers signed” are quantitative goals. The trouble with this approach comes when you are doing bad work. 10% more bad work won't help you very much. In fact it will probably hurt you. If you mix in some qualitative priorities you can ensure that you are doing great work which tends to make it far easier to meet your quantitative goals.

So we've talked about big hairy audacious goals and killing good ideas. As usual, I would love to learn from you as well. How do you set your priorities? What is wrong or left out of my approach? Please leave a comment, recommendation, or reply on twitter.

Daniel Jefferies
Daniel Jefferies is the founder of Newmind Group. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Newmind Group began as a small, regional IT company in 2003. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chromebooks Update [January 2014]

Notable new features include:
  • Supervised users available to all
  • Tab indicators for sound, webcam and casting
  • Automatically Blocking Malware
Full release notes below...

Newmind State of Chromebooks 2014 Survey

We invite you to participate in the "State of Chromebooks" 2014 survey. Join your peers in this anonymous survey and gain insights into:

  • Most popular manufacturers
  • CIPA compliance solutions
  • Adoption of 1:1 environments
  • Network Infrastructure

Monday, January 13, 2014

A minimal framework for managing small teams

This post was originally published to Daniel Jefferies' Medium blog feed.

Imagine you are going on an expedition. There is no map, you need to make one yourself. You are certain there are dangers but you have no idea where they might be or how they will threaten you. Oh yeah, forgot one thing, you aren’t even completely sure if the destination you want to get to even exists at all. But, if you can find it, you will be the first person to set foot there. You will make history. You will be in uncharted territory.

Does this sound like a great adventure? Are you wondering where to sign up? Does it sound like the worst idea ever?

This is what it feels like to create a company, in my experience. Managing and building the team that builds that company is the map making part. A map of undiscovered country. The company DNA.

I want to share with you how I have built these maps in the past. I’m not saying it is a perfect method but it has worked for me. Most of it is borrowed and stolen from lots of sources and folks that are far smarter then I am.

Lets start with a quick overview.


You need to identify what it is that you want to make happen. Your goals.

For my friend Joe and his company TrakGear, this would probably be something like “Signup x number of paying customers” In the beginning when you are small you should try to have a single goal. You don’t have many resources at that point so you need to focus them to make an impact.


“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is an old management adage that many attribute to Peter Drucker. Have a look at your priorities and choose a couple of key data points that will help you measure your progress toward the goal. Somebody in my friend Joe’s position may want to use Dave McClure’s excellent Metrics for Pirates talk as a starting point for what to measure since this is a well thought out framework for measuring web-based products like TrakGear.


Almost all living things have rhythm; heartbeats, pulses, breathing, blinking. These rhythms give our bodies tiny goals to meet which all add up to the larger goal of keeping us alive. Businesses are the same. They need to get into a rhythm of tiny goals that feed the larger priority. These rhythms are things like how often you want to communicate with your customers, how often do you meet with your team, how often to release new versions of you product. This is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle but a critical one if you are to get into a productive flow with your team.


Now we’ve made it down to the practical stuff. The stuff you need to get done. Your workplan is all the things that you intend to do to make your priorities and goals happen. Why do we make our workplan last? Pretty simple actually. Because now our priorities, data and rhythm give us a framework to decide what makes it onto the to do list and what we leave off the list. Does this action directly lead to my priority? Will this action drive the data points that I’m measuring? Is this action part of my rhythm? If the answers to these questions are no then the action doesn’t make it onto the list. Be ruthless. Kill good ideas. Only let the great ones live.

Hopefully that gives you a good sense of the framework. In the coming weeks I’m going to try to write a post each week (that’s a weekly rhythm friends) about a new component of the framework.

In the meantime, I need to ask for a favor. I want the next four posts to be as useful as possible. Also, being new to Medium I’d love to see the comment system in action from an authors perspective. So please be generous with your feedback. I will use that information to inform the rest of the series.

Daniel Jefferies
Daniel Jefferies is the founder of Newmind Group. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Newmind Group began as a small, regional IT company in 2003. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Newmind Announces New CEO

Some of you may have heard that there is big news coming from Newmind in the new year? Well 2014 is officially here and it is time to reveal what we’ve got up our sleeves.

Should we do a drumroll or something?   Nah.  I’ll just tell you.

I’m really excited to announce that our own Matt Vollmar will be taking the CEO role at Newmind and leading us into 2014 and beyond!

For those of you that have had the pleasure of meeting Matt this might not come as a surprise. After spending only a short time with him it is easy to see why he is CEO material.