Archive for the 'SHIFTing Focus' Category

How to Be Your Office DJ

By Danielle Coe, John Cassillo and Kate Guarente

Bandwidth beware: the influx of streaming music and video services like Spotify, MOG, Hype Machine,, YouTube and Vimeo has made it possible to listen to music all the time, anytime. Whether you have one headphone in or you’re blasting it on a Friday afternoon for the whole office, music adds to the creative atmosphere at work. We have shared below a handful of playlists that will pump you up, focus you in, and help you wind down with your colleagues. Have a listen, and let us know what you listen to!

Top Music of 2011:

Congratulations, you just made it to the final round of a new business pitch. You’re pumped, but now you’re looking at a 24 hour turnaround for another pitch deck. The following songs have already won music lovers’ hearts this year, and it’s time they motivate you to win that new business heart, too. Attention-grabbing, thrilling and sometimes a bit brash, each song sets the tone for what should be a great year to come for you and your clients.

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

“I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” – Wavves

“Vomit” – Girls

“The Great Pan Is Dead” – Cold Cave

“Calgary” – Bon Iver

“New Beat” – Toro y Moi

“The Look” – Metronomy

“I Stand Alone” – Theophilus London

“How Deep is Your Love?” – The Rapture

“Wildfire (feat. Little Dragon)” – SBTRKT


Turn off your instant messenger, block your Gmail, and forget about Mashable for an hour. If you’re writing up a pitch about the cloud, this list is your go-to. With steady, relaxed beats and little to no distracting lyrics, these songs can focus you even on the loudest of afternoons.  Though some might also lead you to daydreaming, so careful where your ears tread!

The Wilhelm Scream” – James Blake

“Eyes Be Closed” – Washed Out

“National Anthem” – Radiohead

“Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear

“One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Girlfriend)” – Wilco

“Someone Great” – LCD Soundsystem

808pm At The Beach” – Fred Falke

“Wildcat” – Ratatat

“Take My Soul” – Thievery Corporation

“Chinatown” – Wild Nothing

Monday Morning Oldies:

No one’s in the mood for some loud, annoying pop song by the latest “IT” girl singing about self-esteem on a Monday morning. At times like these, it’s all about those classics you, and everyone else, already knows and loves. Trust us, there’s a reason these songs have been popular for at least the last 25 years.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John and Kiki Dee

“Another One Bites the Dust”—Queen

“Will You Be There” – Michael Jackson

“You Can’t Hurry Love” – The Supremes

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” – The Beatles

“Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins

“You Make My Dreams” – Hall & Oates

“Shout” – The Isley Brothers

 “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond


You know the song that, no matter how many times you play it, your coworkers will light up and say “oh! I love this song!” These are the ones you can play on a Tuesday, leave your desk for a client call, and come back and people are still jamming. Make sure you have at least a few (or all) of the tracks below handy if someone designates you resident DJ on a busy day.

“Unless It’s Kicks” – Okkervil River

“Bloodbuzz Ohio” – The National

“Giving Up the Gun” – Vampire Weekend

“Reptilia” – The Strokes

“Month of May” – Arcade Fire

“Shooting Stars” – Bag Raiders

“Je Veux Te Voir” – Yelle

“Lights & Music” – Cut Copy

“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People

“Superstylin” – Groove Armada

Impress on an Afternoon:

Sometimes there are those days when you’ve volunteered as resident DJ but you feel you’ve exhausted Mike Snow and Robyn and need something fresh. These songs will perk up your colleagues’ ears and eventually someone will ping you, asking “who is this?” Consider this one a little bit of a brag list.

 “It Gets Your Body Movin’” – Suckers

“Brother Sport” – Animal Collective

“The Rat” – The Walkmen

“Round and Round” – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

“Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys”

“Stillness is the Move” – Dirty Projectors

“Heartbeats” – The Knife

“Tripped and Fell in Love” – YACHT

“Two Dancers (ii)” – Wild Beasts (Jon Hopkins Remix)

“Midnight City” – M83

What are your favorite songs to listen to while at work?

My Incredible New Relationship

By Katie Despres (@KDespres)

Everyone knows that feeling of first love; when you just can’t get enough of each other, everything seems new and fresh and you get those butterflies in your stomach whenever you see your object of affection. That’s exactly how I feel—about my new Droid Incredible.

(Image from Verizon)

Yes, I’m in a new relationship with my phone.  But not just any phone.  A SMART phone. Not a dumb phone, like I used to have before this latest upgrade. No, your eyes don’t deceive you; this is my first smartphone. I am a newly converted member of the smartphone carrying, foursquare checking in, Twitter/Facebook/blog updating on-the-go brigade.

And let me tell you: it’s AWESOME.

Why didn’t I make the switch earlier?  No real reason; an aversion to the higher monthly payments, not seeing the real need for one when I bought my last phone (in December of 2008).  That has, of course, changed—you don’t even know how many times I get lost a month, and now I have a navigation system on me at all times.  I can also take awesome pictures on the go, like this one:

Taken at the 10/20 Celtics game from my Droid Incredible!

And the apps?  Even though I’m not using an Apple device, there still is (likely) an app for that (meaning, everything under the sun).  I also have my music, contacts synched with Facebook and a mobile calendar that pulls directly from my Google calendar. All in my pocket, all the time.

So even though I work in tech PR, and am pretty up to speed with the wireless industry and new technologies, I’m basically the anti-early adopter. Though it admittedly did take me a while to jump on the smartphone bandwagon, I can now proudly say that I am most definitely on now, and enjoying the ride.

Any other recent smartphone adopters out there?  What were you waiting for?

SHIFTing Focus: Mommies Time Out

Several SHIFT employees moonlight as avid bloggers, whether it be about food, movies or in the case of Boston’s Rebecca Passo (@bexpas) family and life as a (really awesome) working mom of three.  Following is a recent post from Rebecca’s personal blog, Mommies Time Out.

Observations of a Road Warrior

I spend on average nearly 3 1/2 hours a day, three days a week in my car commuting to and from work.  Here are a few of my most recent observations as a Road Warrior:

  1. Why do people driving minivans feel the need to promote the members of their family in stick figure caricatures on a bumper sticker? If you’re already driving a minivan, I don’t think any further clarification is necessary. Plus, you are giving all of us other really cool minivan drivers a bad rap. Just sayin.
  2. If you text while driving near me I will roll down my window and publicly humiliate you.
  3. Are you really saving money when you wait in a line at the pump that is 15 cars deep with your engine running just because it’s 5-cents-off Thursday?
  4. The hash browns at Dunkin Donuts are surprisingly delicious.
  5. If anyone knows how to adapt a car plug for my crock pot, I could simmer beef stew while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on 93 North and have a hot dinner on the table when I walk in.  I’m not kidding. If you know an electrician that can help me pull this off, I might let you in on the patent when this thing hits QVC this holiday season.
  6. When the gaslight in my car goes on, I find the challenge exhilarating to see just how far I can make it.  And with my 5 for 5 record of never once running out, I think I’ve really got it down.
  7. I’m thinking of trying books on tape.  Any suggestions?
  8. Attention Verizon: There is one spot in the tunnel at the end of Storrow Drive where I always drop my calls. If you could have that resolved, I’d greatly appreciate it.
  9. I always give a courtesy wave when someone lets me merge in front of them.  It really pisses me off when other drivers don’t abide by the same etiquette.
  10. Is it gross that I sometimes finish my morning coffee that is still sitting in the cup holder, on my commute home?

Commuting sucks. There is no doubt about it. I sit in my car every day and think about the millions of other things I could be doing if only I had that extra 3 hours. But, as much as I complain about my horrific commute, I’m still the one that feels guilty. Because  let’s face it, while I have a few quiet hours to gab on the phone and listen to music, my poor husband is left getting all three kids dressed, fed and off to daycare, school, etc.  then does it all over again in reverse that night.

Chris, you are the real Warrior.

SHIFTing Focus: Oscartini

Several SHIFT employees moonlight as avid bloggers, whether it be about food, family or in the case of Boston’s own Katie Despres (@kdespres), movies! Following is a recent post from Katie’s personal blog, Oscartini.

From Katie: Oscartini follows my journey as I watch the 82 (and counting!) Academy Award Best Picture winners, along with all things movies!

Who’s In It… To Win It?

With only 155 days until Oscar nominations are announced (but hey, who’s counting?), Tom O’Neil at the L.A. Times’ Gold Derby yesterday posted a poll: Will ‘Inception’ win the Oscar for best picture?

Tom has identified 16 possible best picture nominees, and so far, 72.8% of the voters think Inception will win the big prize. At this point, I absolutely think Inception is a lock to get one of the 10 spots on the Best Picture ballot, but I’m not 100% convinced Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster will take home the statue.

Don’t get me wrong: Inception is awesome, and I’m strongly considering a repeat viewing (though probably a matinee to bring the cost down!), and the time I’ve spent discussing the ending has been a lot more than most movies I’ve seen recently but…I just don’t know. What do you think? Am I totally off? Do you have a favorite for best picture yet?

As pointed out by Dave Karger over at OscarWatch in “The 2011 Oscar Race,” the films that are most expected to get big award nominations typically come out in the last three months of the year (meaning I have a busy October, November and December ahead!)  I know I still have a lot of movies I need to see before I can make a concrete decision, but I do think something unexpected will happen this year!