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Leaving Jawbone UP3 for Fitbit Charge HR [Review]

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 | 1 comment

After a couple of years, I am finally getting out of an abusive consumer relationship with Jawbone and hoping that Fitbit will treat me better. But honestly, it’s not without regret.

I feel like a girl who fell for the good-looking, fast-talking bad boy full of promises, ultimately all broken, and who finally realized that it’s probably just better to settle for the ho-hum guy who isn’t particularly exciting, but is at least reliable. But I still wish it didn’t have to be this way.

Why I Loved Jawbone UP — and Took So Long To Give It Up

I am not some on-trend fashion plate (going gray/white in 2014 is the only possible exception). But I do need to dress up regularly for public speaking gigs, church, and the occasional fancy night out with the husband.

And if I am going to wear anything on my body 24/7, then I want it to look like jewelry.

That’s where Jawbone’s UP line has always crushed the competition.

Here they are side by side:

Fitibit Charge HR and Jawbone UP3

The Fitbit Charge HR is massive and clunky compared to the Jawbone UP3.


And the clasp is just PLAIN BIG AND UGLY.

My original Jawbone UP band (the thin black rubber bangle with the silver tipped cover) was repeatedly mistaken for actual jewelry. I did not, and still don’t, want to wear something that looks like a sports band.

But I went through two of the UPs, both of them ultimately dying in less than a year, the last one in March 2014 (when I was getting in tons of steps at DisneyWorld no less — grrrr).  The battery stopped charging on both of them.

So I stopped wearing a tracker for the rest of 2014, knowing that a new line was coming out. I jumped on the UP3 pre-order as soon as it was announced back in early November 2014. I thought I’d be wearing it for the inevitable re-commitment to fitness on January 1, 2015.

I really, really wanted the more sophisticated sleep tracking and the heart rate monitoring the UP3 promised.

I am super sensitive to sleep quality and quantity. I feel terrible physically, mentally, and emotionally when I don’t get enough sleep, and I wanted to learn more about my sleep habits. The UP3 reports on the amount of time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep.

I also have low blood pressure, which has a significant effect on my ability to push hard when exercising. If my heart rate goes too high (especially when it’s hot, or I’m dehydrated), my blood pressure tanks and I can pass out. Even if I don’t actually pass out, getting close creates dizziness, nausea, and lactic acid buildup that means I’m achy for a couple of days. Bottom line: I need to monitor myself to push my fitness, but in a safe way, and a heart rate monitor helps. I have a chest strap heart rate monitor, but it’s uncomfortable, so I don’t use it. I love gadgets, but I’m not committed enough to my fitness to wear something that’s uncomfortable.

I knew going into the pre-order that UP3 would only measure resting heart rate at first (again, mine is on low end) but wanted desperately to believe the promise that they’d add exercise monitoring “soon.”

I really thought that the UP3 was going to be perfect for me — the health tracking I really wanted in something that looked good enough to wear all the time. And for the record, I don’t want a phone on my wrist, and don’t really even care about the time-keeping.

Then the excuses slowly came out, followed by more promises.

When Jawbone offered a free UP Move as consolation for shipping delays in late December, I took it, along with the promises that the UP3 would come out in “very early 2015.”


I wore a purple UP Move in a black strap, which I have since given to my daughter. It looks much more appropriate on a 12-year-old's wrist. (And is still working by the way.)

I wore a purple UP Move in a black strap, which I have since given to my daughter. It looks much more appropriate on a 12-year-old’s wrist. (And is still working by the way.)


I started wearing the Move on a bracelet, even though it looked really goofy (NOT the clean stylish look I was hoping for). And waited, and waited, googling for updates every few weeks.

I work in marketing. Jawbone’s customer communications about the delay are some of the worst I have ever seen. Completely pathetic. And yet, I was hooked on the promise.

Fast forward another FOUR MONTHS LATER, and oh glorious day, the UP3 arrived on April 30, after very well-publicized production delays because of waterproofing problems — which I did not care about in the least. I’m not a huge swimmer or bath taker, so who cares. I wish they would have just sent me the “splash proof” version they ended up releasing way back when.

And less than 6 weeks later, my UP3 was totally dead.

In early June, after using the UP3 for about a month, I noticed the battery life was getting worse and worse. From day 1, after a full charge, it would last maybe 5 days, even though it was advertised for longer. But even that started creeping down to 4 days, then 2 days, then less than a day. I would charge it first thing in the morning, and wake up the very next morning to find the thing had stop tracking and died in the middle of the night.

Then it wouldn’t even charge at all. And yes I tried everything Jawbone suggests and some other suggestions I found online. I plugged it into two different computers and three different chargers. It was dead.

I submitted a support ticket on the morning of Tuesday, June 9, asking for a replacement.

But later that day, I decided to look at this objectively, and concluded that Jawbone is full of shit, plain and simple, and their products are crap. I desperately wanted to believe they could deliver on their sweet promises, but they haven’t, at least for not more than a few short months at a time in my case. They suck.

I ordered the Fitbit Charge HR, and it arrived Thursday, June 11.

What I Like about FitBit and What I Still Miss about Jawbone

I’ve been wearing the Fitbit Charge HR for almost two weeks now. Here’s how I feel about it.

I do like the Fitbit on-wrist data. That was one thing I actually liked about the UP Move. You had to learn what all the flashing lights meant, but once you got the hang of it, it was easy. With the UP3, you have to look at your phone, or try to decipher a series of vibrations on your wrist, which I never really figured out. A few little button clicks and I get steps, current heart rate, and more on the Fitbit. I didn’t think this would matter to me since I have my phone with me anyway, but it’s nice.

The Fitbit app is just fine. Everyone raves about the UP app and it is nice. But after wearing an UP product for a couple of years, the advice was getting stale. I don’t really miss it. And guess what, the Fitbit app is just fine. It’s not nearly as horrible or ugly as people make it out to be (I think it may have undergone a recent makeover).

I stopped using MyFitnessPal to track food and am using the native Fitbit database. Tracking diet in Jawbone was never that great, and I had moved over to MyFitnessPal and integrated it with Jawbone. I decided to just use the Fitbit app alone, and I like the way that the total calorie budget gets adjusted up or down during the day based on activity.

The Fitbit sleep tracking is just OK. I really liked the Jawbone sleep tracking, but honestly, I’m not sure how trustworthy it was. Fitbit’s technology isn’t as robust, but I am using the “number of times restless” that Fitbit tracks as an indicator of how soundly I am sleeping.

I do miss the mood and commenting in the Jawbone app. The thing I miss most about the Jawbone app is that you can easily track your mood and add comments throughout the day. I am wearing this tracker in large part to see how things like sleep and exercise affect my quality of life (like my mood), but I can’t track that in the Fitbit app. I can do it on the website, but that’s really inconvenient. Why not in the app itself?

The Fitbit heart rate monitoring is working great. I’ve worked out a few times and also checked my heart rate when I was stressed out and am starting to learn what different heart rates feel like. I also really like how the Fitbit app charts out when you are in Fat Burning, Cardio, and Peak Zones. If only I could add comments to those peaks and valleys!

I do miss the inactivity alert. UP will vibrate after you have been inactive for an amount of time you set. Since I work at my desk and can often get focused on something and sit for hours, I really liked that little reminder.

I was fine with no one else I knew using UP. I know that’s probably weird to many of you, but I’m not a bandwagon person, and the last thing in my life that I need right now is more group accountability. The whole social challenge / peer pressure part of the Fitbit community is a MAJOR downside for me. I know that’s a huge motivator for many Fitbit users, but I really couldn’t care less. It’s just not my thing. I’m doing this for myself. I will not be friending a lot of people. Maybe no one.

The Fitbit green flashing LED lights are annoying. When I am in bed, because I often sleep with my hands up near my face, and the band is not flat against my skin, the green LED lights that measure heart rate will often flash in my eyes. Not a deal breaker, but they are very bright in a dark room. I usually just push it up higher on my arm, so it has full skin contact and gets blocked out.

I still hate the way the Fitbit Charge HR looks and pine for the lower profile UP3. It’s a big clunky ugly black strap on my wrist.

UP products blend in with jewelry.

It’s fairly easy to disguise Jawbone products with other jewelry.

But that doesn't really work with something this wide.

But that doesn’t really work with something this wide.

With a little online searching, I did find an Etsy store that offers fitness tracker charms and other ways to hide the band.

I’m currently wearing this charm when I want to dress it up a bit, and I’ve ordered others:

The charm makes it tolerable, but this thing is still ugly at its core.

The charm makes it tolerable, but this thing is still ugly at its core.

Should I Bring the UP3 Back to Life?

I submitted my help ticket about the UP3 dying on June 9. Five days later, on June 14, Jawbone responded offering a firmware update.

I replied that I didn’t really understand how I could do a firmware update on a totally dead product.

Then I threw the band across the room in frustration.

And then I picked it back up and attempted to charge it one more time. And the little light came on. Huh.

So, it’s now back to life — only after many failed attempts to charge previously and after violence on my part.

I don’t know what to do next. I haven’t installed the firmware update and not sure I will at this point. I feel like I am getting sucked back in by the bad boyfriend AGAIN.

The UP app is still on my phone, reminding me everyday that I haven’t synced recently. But I’m keeping it there to track the kid’s sleep and steps with the Move.

I guess I could sell the UP3, but I don’t want to pass this lousy relationship on to someone else.

Maybe when I hear that Jawbone has finally turned on 24/7 heart rate monitoring and followed through on all the other whiz-bang promises it’s made, and hear from real users about it, I’ll let myself get sucked back in.

But for now, I think I’ll just walk away, cram the UP3 in a drawer, and stick with the ugly but reliable Fitbit. It’s growing on me.



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Book Binge: 7 Books I am Reading Now

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 | 3 comments

When I get too busy, the first thing to go (unfortunately, unconsciously) is reading. So when I realize that’s happened, and it’s been a while since I made time to read a book, I binge. At this time of year, when I am planning for the next year, I often binge on books that nourish the entrepreneurial part of me.

Here are seven books I am reading now. I can’t really vouch for them since I haven’t finished them. But they all started as sample downloads on the Kindle and have all now been purchased in full.

If you want to read with me, I’m including Amazon links.

The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust

Why I’m reading it: I expect mentoring/coaching clients to be a growing part of my consulting business and am interested in building my knowledge and skills in this area.

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Why I’m reading it: Same reason as above, hope it makes me a better coach/mentor.

Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out

Why I’m reading it: My company is built largely on my personal brand. I’ve hated most personal branding books, but am really enjoying Marc Ecko’s writing style (although I will admit I’d never heard of his clothing brand before the book).

The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work

Why I’m reading it: Love WordPress, working in virtual teams, and memoir.

Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less

Why I’m reading it: I could use a little help focusing on a growth strategy for Nonprofit Marketing

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Why I’m reading it: I’m a fan of 99U and have enjoyed some of Scott Belsky’s other stuff, like Making Ideas Happen. Kristina and I are reading this together to see if we can learn anything about how we work together as a company.

The Circle

Why I’m reading it: This one work of fiction on the list is by Dave Eggers, one of my favorite authors, and it’s about a social media/online media company that monopolizes the Internet (and therefore the world, I take it). So given that my company works online and depends on companies like Google and Facebook, it definitely has a work angle.

Let me know if you plan on reading any of these, and what you reading right now.

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The Five Times I’ve Leaned In Hardest

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 | 13 comments

Despite some of the predictable criticisms of Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, I personally found a lot of value in it, which inspired me to share my story.

To me, Lean In is really about going for it, in every way, no matter how you define your “it” – an empowering message that I think many people are missing.  Leaning in is being fearless about your future and ambitious about your goals, but without over-planning yourself into a bind that ends up holding you back. Much of Sheryl’s success, and my own too, is about being nimble and trusting your instincts, even when it scares you to death and you aren’t exactly sure what you are doing or where you are headed. As one of my favorite DMB songs goes, “If you hold on tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you’re missing all the rest.”

I am sharing what leaning in has looked like for me in very specific ways. These are the five biggest decisions I’ve made in the last fifteen years that I believe have had a direct impact on my professional success, some of which are very personal and that I have never discussed before publicly.

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Apps I Use at Conferences

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 | 1 comment

It’s Spring Conference Season, which means I am on the road a lot again, mostly as a speaker, but also as a conference attendee.

I try to make the most out of the conferences I attend by strategically using the apps on my smartphone.  I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 at the moment — which I LOVE — and all links in this post are to the  Google Play Store.

Top Three Apps I Use at Conferences All the Time


Each conference should have a hashtag, and individual sessions probably have their own too. Set up and save searches so you can open the conference streams quickly. Hootsuite makes it very easy to do this. For example, say there are two sessions you really want to go to at the same time. Pick one and watch the other via the hashtag. If the other one seems more interesting,  vote with your feet and change sessions. I also tell people that if they want to connect with me onsite, use Twitter during the conference rather than calling or emailing me. I’m much more likely to see a message quickly that way.


I am too slow at taking notes live on my phone or tablet, and often don’t want to schlep the laptop to sessions. My solution is taking notes the old fashioned way with a pen and notebook, which is also a good excuse for buying blank books, which I love, love, love. So I take notes by hand, but at the close of each session or at the end of the day, I snap pictures of the pages and save them into Evernote. As long as I am not too sloppy, Evernote can read my handwriting, so my notes are searchable.

Sidenote: I do have a Livescribe pen, and have tried to record sessions while notetaking, which is nice, but the Livescribe pen is too fat and really does hurt my hand, so I have stopped using it.  Loss of the audio isn’t that big a deal because I can record on the phone if I really need it.

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What’s a Hook and How to Find It

Posted by on Apr 5, 2013 | 0 comments

I write so much better and faster when I can identify the hook of the article or story early. When I mentioned this on a webinar recently, someone asked, “But what is a hook and how do you know it when you see it?

Good question!

Think of the hook as, well, the thing you hook your thinking on as you write the article. Or the thing that will hook your reader into going past the first sentence or two. It’s like the organizing principle that you write around. Or the most important point. Or the one-liner that you think everyone will want to tweet. It’s what snags both you and the readers into the piece.

You may know that you have to write about a certain topic, but until you find your hook, you’ll just be rambling.

Here are some common hooks . . .

A good question. Questions that many people have are great hooks. It’s the hook I used to draft this blog post!

A dramatic situation. If you are telling a story that grabs your reader, they’ll want to hang on to see how it is resolved.

An interesting character. If a person in the story is interesting, because the reader can relate to him or her or because the person is very different from the reader, that can work as a hook.

A quote that says it all. Sometimes a direct quote from someone you interviewed really gets to the crux or heart of the matter and you can use that as your hook.

The format itself. People love Top Ten Lists, how-to articles, and Q & A interviews. These formats themselves are good hooks because of their popularity.

A surprising stat. A startling statistic can work as a hook too.

A funny situation. Humor is a great hook, especially if people can relate to it in their own lives.

What hooks do you use in your writing?

 This post first appeared on my Nonprofit Communications Blog.

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