Five websites every CEO should know about

Filed under Columns

By Lorene Kennard

Guest columnist

Lorene Kennard is a guest columnist for

Lorene Kennard, owner of Walnut Avenue Research in Morris, Ill., suggests websites to save business owners time. Photo courtesy of Walnut Avenue Research

We spend much of our lives online these days as the Internet now can do many of the tasks we used to do in person. But we also waste a lot of time surfing the Web looking for information.

Put the Internet to good use. Here are five websites that make it easy to find information online, help schedule meetings and might even get your business some media coverage. is a collection of services and tools that an executive assistant would use to help you save time and improve productivity. You will find tools on topics such as weather, travel, sports, health, package tracking, legislature, text messaging, reference, local, national and international news, shopping, real estate, cars and a lot more. Every topic heading has groups of hotlinks to newspapers, magazines, and other websites and resources. With free registration, you can add links to your own favorite resources to create a personalized set of tools for quickly locating information. is a good way for small businesses to get some media coverage. Reporters from local, national and international print publications, websites and radio stations submit their story ideas, along with the type of person they would like to interview. HARO compiles them and sends out emails three times a day that list the topics and contact information. If one of the ideas relates to you, contact the reporter and you may get interviewed. Some topics are general, but many topics are very specific. Some examples from the most recent HARO emails: “Expert on Twins,” “Looking for people in Chicago who don’t like office food,” “Dr. Seuss experts,” “Real estate agents: home repairs ahead of a short sale,” and “Did it take you five years to graduate from college?” Sign up to receive HARO emails and you may get quoted in the media! HARO is free and independently owned and funded.  allows you to create your own personal online magazine rack. This site keeps you up to date on what’s going on with your favorite topics by capturing the headlines of the latest stories from the best blogs and websites that cover those topics. You also can monitor the online versions of your favorite print publications. When you roll your mouse over the headline, the first paragraph of each story will pop up. Check out the collections of some ‘famous’ people like Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh and Dave Winer, considered father of RSS syndication. Your collection will have a unique URL, so you can share it with your social network. You can create multiple collections, so you can have a private feed and one to share. covers more than 600 topics and the site is always adding topics and source content. is a free scheduling tool that does not require registration. Instead of wasting time sending a flurry of emails back and forth with several people to determine when everyone is available for a meeting, use Doodle. Simply click on the calendar to select dates and then enter times. You can either email the Doodle link to your group, or distribute through your email address book. Recipients select the dates/times that they are available and you get an email telling you what date/time works best for everyone. Doodle can be used with Outlook, Google and many other calendars. Doodle can be used as a personal scheduler, too. You can set up your own personal calendar and allow others to access it and submit meeting requests to get on your calendar. is an online full-text literature resource. If you’re writing a speech or an article and you need the perfect quote, is a great resource. You can enter a topic and search hundreds of resources and authors like Post’s Etiquette, World Factbook, Oxford Shakespeare, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.

What’s your favorite online resource?

Do you have any websites that have helped you save time or made an arduous task easier? I am always looking for useful websites. Please use the comments section to share your favorite websites.

 Lorene Kennard, owner of Walnut Avenue Research in Morris, Ill., has 20 years of experience in insurance, financial services, research and information. Her clients include entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of business planning and established business owners looking for information on their competition. She also publishes an e-newsletter,  In a Nutshell, from which part of this column was adapted.

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