"What did you do this summer?" When the fall rolls around, you should be able to say, "I got smarter." Use the months ahead to get future-ready, focusing on the technologies and habits that will prepare you for an AI-powered era.

Unless you operate a food truck or summer-related hospitality business, you may find that business slows down a bit. Use that time wisely to ensure the second half of the year is as hot as the weather.

  1. Create a summer reading goal and share it on Goodreads. It can also serve as a virtual book club and social network. You can start with this great list from Jeff Haden. Add on at least one book that relates to AI or robotics. Prefer reading numbers over letters? Crunchbase is a great source of data about which industries and companies are being funded and are scaling. You can also use it to target a job search.
  2. Automate your summer vacation. Most of us are already using online booking agents, but think about ways you can add at least one new app or technology into your travel planning, your stay or memory-sharing when you return. For example: book a room at a hotel that has a robot concierge, visit a restaurant with a robot bartender or burger maker, or marvel at the next-generation technologies at Disney (like their tracker wristbands that personalize your ride experience by greeting you by name). And, of course, you can still send printed travel photos to your grandmother cross-country via an app like Shutterfly.
  3. Research and plan on attending a conference in the fall.  If you prefer not to travel during summer months, add a little leisure time to your fall conference planning. Web Summit in Lisbon attracts 70,000 innovators globally. Or, if you travel to Toronto, you can tour their startup district. Speaking of conferences, 2019 conferences are already putting out their "calls for speakers," so if you're on the speaking circuit, jump on these opportunities.

  4. Act like a drone and view your business from above. While you're sitting by the pool or on the beach, evaluate your business' and your own performance during the first half of the year and make a plan for the second half. Mindmeister or Monday.com are great vision/planning tools. Don't forget to incorporate your "giving" strategy too through sponsorships and attendance at fundraisers. The holiday season is an ideal time for philanthropy. Start planning now, so you'll have your donation budget earmarked early.

  5. Find your voice. Voice-activated technology will be a big part of the business future. Amazon Prime Day is usually in July and can be a great time to shop for devices for your home or office so you can practice talking rather than texting. Or pick one of these other technologies to research and master. 

  6. Binge-watch media about the future. Use those rainy days to catch up on series like Westworld (about an adult amusement park filled with robots) or go retro and gather your team at work to watch the 1960s Star Trek episode in which Kirk is replaced by a computer. Although fiction, these shows can spark great conversations about what our future might look like as man and machine work and live side-by-side.

  7. Unplug. Yes, that's right. You'll do your best thinking if you catch up on sleep and leave the phone in the other room. If you need help with your digital detox, you can download an app like Freedom that limits your screen time. According to the American Sleep Association, adults still need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to be most productive. Be sure to put down those devices, catch some shut-eye, and enjoy the beach this summer. (But if you're worried about getting burned, you can always wear a device like QSun that tracks your Vitamin D and sun exposure.)