Not everyone is given their own show on Oprah's US cable network network, but that's just what happened to comedian Zach Anner last year. After winning Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star, Zach hosted a travel show called Rollin' With Zach, which was, according to him, "a lot of fun and immediately cancelled".
It didn't take long for the travel bug to bite again, and thanks to the power of YouTube and Reddit, Zach is back at it with Riding Shotgun. Airing on YouTube, the show's itinerary was chosen entirely by Reddit and takes Zach and crew to eight cities in the US and Canada. We caught up with Zach to talk about the show, his favourite gadgets, and the best advice he's ever gotten (from Oprah!).
Name: Zach Anner Occupation: Host of Riding Shotgun Location: Austin, TX Current computer: MacBook Pro, which I have a love/hate relationship with. What kind of $2700 laptop doesn't have an HDMI port or Blu-ray?! And how's Thunderbolt coming along? Seems like a perfectly good reason not to upgrade to USB 3.0 until 2012. Oh, and thanks for Final Cut X. Current mobile device: Stupid phone. No apps, no web, no Apple maps. Just numbers.
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
My wheelchair would probably be number one. [Note: Zach was born prematurely with cerebral palsy.] I travel a lot and crawling from city to city just isn't very practical. My second favorite things is: I have a toilet seat that's right out of the Jetsons. It has a seat warmer, a bidet, and a massager. I've invited attractive girls over just so they'd try my toilet.
What's your best time-saving trick?
The only thing that I've learned to do is delegate. I'm really only good at two to three tasks in the entire spectrum of human life. If I'm not doing those things I'm just surviving rather than living. Early on I had to learn how to ask for help so that I could do what I love and do it well, rather than attempting what everyone else does and failing.
What's your favourite to-do list manager?
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?
To carry things while I'm going around in my chair, my dad built a bag on a pulley system that I can swing around and put groceries or my computer in. It saves a lot of time and makes my stuff accessible.
What's your workspace setup like?
We work with a Frankenstein office setup of monitors and computers on two $35 plastic tables purchased at Walmart.
What do you listen to while you work?
What I listen to now is little snippets of myself talking over and over again while they're being edited.
What's your sleep routine like?
I'm definitely a night owl. Generally my sleep pattern is to wait until I get so exhausted that I fall asleep wherever I am at that exact moment. Sometimes that place is a bed, other times it's a floor.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Oprah once told me that she didn't believe in luck, but rather preparation for seizing your moment. I always use that. Chris Demarais told me that I should have a subscribe button on all of my YouTube videos. It's not as eloquent, but it's been extremely helpful in building my fanbase. That said, here's the link to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Is there anything else you want to add for readers/fans?
In my opinion, technology is awesome and the only reason that somebody like me is able to do what they do. Technology has allowed me to be a filmmaker while not being physically able to be behind a camera. It has allowed me to be a composer while not being able to play an instrument. And more than anything, it has given me the opportunity to become myself rather than become my limitations.
There are so many wonderful tools out there now. Sometimes we're more interested in connecting our devices than connecting with people. Remember that life is a balance. Try to use tools and not distractions.
We've asked a handful of heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Every week we'll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips and tricks that keep them going. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.