I work in a co-working space in Downtown Boston, and I'm a highly social person on most days (i.e., I often prefer to avoid work by chitchatting). The professionals in my co-working space are software developers, Big Data specialists, financial analysts, lawyers, real estate agents, and more. Many of them have become friends and advisers: building community is kinda what co-working is all about, and that's the part I enjoy most.
Anyway, I was eating lunch with Justin late last week. He's a millennial mobile app developer who works remotely for a bank headquartered in North Carolina (I won't disclose the bank's name). Justin is a friend, and we often eat lunch together outside and inside the coworking space we share. Like me, he likes football (especially UNC football and the Carolina Panthers) and good food -- he's also savvy about learning new things, which is the quality I like most in other people.
Over lunch inside the coworking space, I was complaining to Justin about the high number of interviews I needed to transcribe, and how stressed out that was making me. When I conduct interviews (with authors or business leaders/experts), I generally record the phone conversation into into an MP3 audio file and then do the transcription manually, which can take a tedious hour or two out of my life for each interview. I hate rewinding and toggling back.
For the record, Justin sometimes complains about having to do some of his coding work manually -- he loves to re-purpose already-developed code. In other words, my young friend is smart and productive.
After I'd complained about the tedium of transcription for about five minutes, Justin looked at me for a moment, "why don't you just automate it?" He had gained my full attention now. "Yep," he said, "you can just upload the MP3 audio file to an online transcription service. Many of these services are cheap, accurate, and quick."
I put down my fork, which was filled with chicken and rice, and pondered for a moment. "How can I find one of these transcription services you're talking about?" Justin is nothing if not diplomatic, and he scratched his chin for a second before answering my fairly stupid question. "Well, Chuck, you might want to start by doing a keyword search for 'transcription services' on Google." I almost jumped out of my seat to grab my laptop.
Fast-forward thirty minutes (bad joke intended), and I had found a great transcription service at a low price. I uploaded my MP3 audio files, and gave them my credit card number. Anyway, the transcripts came back the next day and were beautiful -- accurate and clean. I spent about 10-15 minutes editing each interview, and then happily submitted them to my client.
By paying someone else to do my transcription, I probably saved 5 hours that day, and felt much happier and more productive. As Justin sometimes says, doing things that are "efficient and scalable" just makes a lot of sense. So to recap, eat lunch with people smarter than you, share your problems, listen to their advice, then buy them lunch the next day.