Everyday Carry for an effective exec

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Part of being an effective executive (to use a Peter Drucker term) is being able to be adaptable and ready for the vast majority of business meetings, sessions, encounters and so on. You should be able to pick up your bag and leave without having to think about what needs to be in it 99% of the time. I’ve continually tried to hone this skill. it does keep subtly changing over time. For now though here’s the Jan ’19 edition.


Let’s start with the basics, what do you carry it all in? I’ve had backpacks, messenger bags and flirted with whether briefcases were still a good idea. For now, I’m settled on a backpack and this one is a veteran. It’s been in and out of service a couple of times over the years.

While you can’t get this particular bag anymore, the brand is still around. What do I like about this bag?

  • Side pockets
  • A laptop pocket on the back for good protection
  • Various smaller side pouches for magazines, notebooks, etc
  • Space for pens
  • A main pouch for bigger stuff
  • It’s rugged and stands a lot of abuse

It’s the many different pockets and areas that make this bag effective. I’m a fan of putting things in the same place every time for fast retrieval and a lack of thinking of where anything is.


To be an effective executive today you need to be able to connect to screens with your laptop. You can’t rely on the machines people have in the room, or even having a room. If there’s TVs or projectors there, it’s probably not the correct cable. Not to mention the fact I have a Macbook with just one USB-C connector: nothing fits it by default. So the wires in the bag are:

  • A USB-C to HDMI, USB and USB-C adaptor: this allows connection HDMI screens while being able to charge my iPhone and laptop at the same time.
  • A USB-C to VGA, USB and USB-C adaptor: same as above, but just for VGA connectors. Rarely used these days as most places are HDMI, but still occasionally gets rolled out.
  • An Apple Watch UK plug that folds the prongs down to make it flat: so much better! Have a look.
  • An iPhone USB cable
  • USB-C charger
  • Headphones that plug into my phone (again with Apple’s one plug thing)
  • Headphones that plug into my laptop

The laptop is in a sleeve in the back pocket and the charger goes in a little pouch to keep it neat, it’s this one here. The rest of the stuff goes into one of two of the pockets in the front of the bag. The upper pocket for more frequent things, and lower pocket for the less frequent (like the VGA).

All these wires enable me to connect to almost all screens, keep everything powered up and charged. I often tether my phone to my laptop for Internet (as WiFi is also often unreliable, hard to get, or just a faff to sort out in client offices) so charging the phone is essential.

Reading & Writing

I’m a big fan of Moleskine Cahiers – the small pocket sized ones, red, with a graph paper set of rules. I carry these around everywhere and am currently on number 10, and tend to go through one every few months. I’ll write a different article on these another time in terms of why, how they’re used and so on! Alongside the current one of those there’s a couple of black biros of any kind (not currently fussy about that!) to write.

There’s normally a magazine of some kind for reading material for train journeys and the odd few minutes here and there. It’s normally The Economist or Courier is a current favourite.


There’s also some standard stuff: office keys and house keys that sit in one of the side pouches for easy access while going up to a door.


It may be less than you might think that runs around with me to be effective. There’s a lot more wires than anything else that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to wireless charging being ubiquitous and built in to everything! Same for displays, the more AirPlay and equivalents the better! I’ve never been a fan of carrying loads, as it gets heavy fast and part of a good carry is lightness.

The key is that I’m never stuck: I can work, meet, present, charge my kit, write, read, listen, etc. There’s always something effective to be done. That’s an effective everyday carry.

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