Going all-in on iPad Pro with Clayton Morris

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Leaving broadcast TV

Rene Ritchie: I'm Rene Ritchie, and this is "Vector." Joining me today, Clayton Morris.

Clayton, since last we spoke, you ditched your job at "Fox & Friends." You were the technology guy there. I saw you at all the Apple events. You were up at 3:00 AM covering the keynotes, and now you're doing something totally different.

Clayton Morris: Totally different, yeah. For the past 10 years, while I was in television, I became a real estate investor. It was actually because I lost my job 10 years earlier. I was at Fox in Philadelphia at "Good Day Philadelphia."

The week after I was hired, my news director was fired. She was the one that brought me there, so I was out of a job. She was out of a job, and I had no internal support there.

Then nine months later, they didn't renew my contract, because they're like, "We think you were sold a bill of goods. We brought you here to be the fun morning guy, but we want to take the show in a if-it-bleeds-it-leads direction."

I was like, "That's not what I want to do." They didn't renew my contract. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I was out of a job. I vowed then, I said, "I'm not going to allow somebody else to dictate my life for me."

Even while I was working in television at the network, then after that, I was buying properties, figuring out how to create cash flow and wealth. That's what I've been doing for the past 10 years.

All this craziness over the summer in politics, I was like, "I don't want to be a part of this anymore. I want to spend more time with my family and focus on the things that I can help other people." Launched my own YouTube channel, my own podcast, and everything else, and now I get to do this full time.

It's crazy. It's a crazy change, I'll tell you that much.

Preparing for launch

Rene: It's fun because I just launched my new podcast. I re-launched my podcast, which you were a guest on previously -- both the fun movie episodes and the deep dive technology episodes -- and my YouTube channel. I feel like we're almost in this together.

Clayton: Yeah, I was super excited because you and I were texting the other day. I loved the launch of your new YouTube channel. I love the look of it. We're trying to dial in our channel here, the new...

We built a TV studio here at the office. We've got all the new software. We're still trying to dial in the backdrop.

Rene: Yeah, you went with wood and I went with brick.


Clayton: I'm like, "What more, what other things should I put in here? Maybe more shallow depth of field?" I wanted to really do as much as I can for my audience.

Being able to come in here and have great 4K video, that's what we're doing on our YouTube channel now at Morris Invest. We're trying to make sure the audio quality is as good as possible, so I'm listening, dialing it in.

I know you were going through those same growing pains when you launched, too, the other day.

Rene: My last episode, I got the audio all wrong. [laughs]

Clayton: I know. I heard, but I was like, hey, you know what? That's how it happens.

The first live stream that I did -- I do a live stream every Wednesday at 11:00 AM -- the Internet, I got a gigabyte Ethernet connection from Verizon, from Fios. Yet, someone had punctured a CAT-6 cord in the house. It was causing, for some reason, the network to go down every 30 minutes on the dot.

It was so bizarre. Right in the middle of my live stream, I dropped three times. You have these growing pains, but it's part of the fun of this whole thing.

Rene: You've got an X-wing on your shelf so I feel like you've already succeeded.


Clayton: Here's my little X-wing. This was a gift. This was a limited edition that George Lucas gave out when they did the re-launch of the 1996. He gave these out to the whole team, and a friend of mine got this for me for Christmas one year. It's got to go up there next to my "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" book. [laughs]

Rene: I don't know because you mentioned that. I want to experiment. The reason I launched this channel -- not to go off in too much of a tangent -- was to make a variety show where I'd have some monologue, some deep dive, some interviews, some instructional stuff, and just all put it together. We even do monthly movie shows still.

Instant on

I didn't want to be afraid of getting things wrong, because I feel like if I worried about making it perfect, I would just never have an episode up.

Clayton: That's the thing. The beauty of setting up your own studio, too, is that you find that if you don't have something set up that's plug-and-play, ready to go?

If you have to get out lights, if you have to get out microphones, if you have to get out all of these things, guess what? Maybe the muse has struck you to just do a show, then you're not going to do it because you have to set up all of this crap.

Rene: Yeah.

Clayton: By having a studio set up, by being able to immediately come down here, the stock market was crashing like crazy last week like crazy. I did a live stream and was just talking with people, some people who had lost a huge chunk of change.

I was talking about why real estate, and the differences there. It was great to be able to come down, flip on a power switch, and just go.

Rene: Yeah, and have a conversation, have a community. How is that? With Fox, it was...

Clayton: Not have my hair done, bruises and all, who cares?

Inside Apple Events

Rene: That's just the thing. I remember you from Apple events. We used to commiserate -- you, me, Apple PR, the other media people -- that you were up doing the 2:00 AM hit, the 3:00 AM hit, the 4:00 AM. You had to be perfect every hour, on the hour, and then still cover the event.

Clayton: There was one time. I can't remember what launch it was. I think it might have been one of those mid, boring launches. I was asleep in the car, in the Cupertino parking lot. [laughs]

Rene: At one of the town hall events.

Clayton: At one of the town hall events, yeah, and I was in between live shots. What am I going to do, drive back to the hotel? I only had 40 minutes. By the time I get back there in 15 minutes, I can't sleep.

I just would go to my car. I'd set my phone. The one time, my phone didn't go off and my producers were calling me, "Hey, we need you on the platform. We're about to go live in two minutes." I just ran out of my car, sprinted over there, they slapped a microphone and an IFB in my ear. They're like, "You're on."

"We're out here at 1 Infinite Loop right now. We're..." blah, blah, blah. Holy smokes, I was out of breath.

Rene: For people who aren't familiar with it, whenever there's an event, there's a broadcast platform. That's where almost all the networks, all the outlets, the satellite trucks are all around it. There's PR people helping out, and there's directors of photography. There's producers, there's camera people, there's reporters.

You can't really tell by watching them on TV, but they're all packed in there like sardines. It's hot. You have the hardest job in baseball, sir.

Clayton: Well, it's so weird, too, because you're side by side with people who are shouting sometimes. There was a guy from CNBC who loved to hear himself talk.

He was so loud and boisterous. He didn't care that there was somebody else right next to him doing a live shot, as well, and also was broadcasting to their entire audience. His arms were flailing around.

Yeah, you're packed together side by side. Oftentimes, if you watch White House coverage, you'll hear another reporter in the distance, but they're really next right, arm lengths away from the person.

Rene: I remember I was with you when the first, it wasn't the one that Twitter bought. It was the company that came out later. You live streamed over Twitter immediately, and I'm blanking on the name. It was like...?

Clayton: Meerkat.

Rene: Meerkat, and the guy from "Mashable," and another magazine, they were, "I'm streaming live. I have 200 people." They almost rammed me over at the table. "This is mine." They were arguing over whose table it was to live stream, and I almost died.

Clayton: Then Apple PR was like, "No live streaming. Please shut that down."

Doing your own thing

Rene: What is it like to go from having an entire network -- not a small network, a major network -- behind you, to doing things on your own?

Clayton: The other day, Natalie, my wife, and I just had lunch. She and I, we do episodes together on Wednesdays. Where we talk about family wealth building strategies, tax, with the real estate, and how to put it all together with your LLCs, business structure and all that stuff because it can be incredibly complicated. We do that.

We were talking at lunch. She said, "If you would have asked me a year ago or even two years ago, during your lunchtime when the baby's asleep, we'd be able to go live and do our own show. Talking about the things that we want to talk about, helping other people, rather than having to talk about Trump or whatever's going on in Congress right now, I wouldn't have believed you."

Here we were. We just put the baby down, did this live show. We're having lunch together in the middle of the afternoon. It's weird. I don't have all the fancy bells and whistles of a multi-billion-dollar network behind me, but I can do my own thing. It doesn't matter that there's not swooping cameras and live trucks and all that kind of stuff.

Rene: Ready, one, go, one, motion graphics, focus on Clayton. You've got to go, and you've got to vamp, go, go. [laughs]

Clayton: Rene, you know with your HomePod stuff, it doesn't matter that you don't have a crane camera in the studio. What matters is the content. What matters is that people...

Where did I go to get my first HomePod information? It was to you because I know you're incredibly thorough and I know that, first of all, I can trust you. I'm going to you for the content. I don't care that there's not all of these additional bells and whistles.

Yes, I want this to look as good as it can be on my YouTube channel, on the Morris Invest YouTube channel, but the first videos that I ever did were just against a flat white wall. Those videos where I'm talking about return on investment or cash flow, they still drive the most traffic because the content was there. The white wall was boring, but who cares?

Going all-in on iPad

Rene: One of the things you mentioned, we've been talking about this for a while. The town hall event that you're talking about might have been the one for the 5K iMacs. I remember you were heavy into photography, and when you saw that machine and how it displayed photos, it was amazing.

You're increasingly going all-in on iPad. I wanted to ask you how that was working.

Clayton: I love it. If you're watching the video version of this, I've got my iPad Pro right here.

Rene: 12.9 inch?

Clayton: This is the 10.5 inch.

Rene: 10.5 inch.

Clayton: Yeah, the 10.5 inch. I love it. I had gone back and forth between the 12 and the 10. Ultimately, this, it's just the portability of it, being able to throw it in my bag. I can pull it out anywhere and start doing work.

For instance, I was working on this video series about cash flow. There was a lot of different series.

I'm building a whole series around it, these video and podcast series around it, so I was doing a lot of writing. Went to the office, was talking with my assistant. That's a whole new...


Clayton: Now, I have an office and an assistant also. She's fantastic. She was doing work. I pulled out the iPad. I started. I said, "I need to slam through these videos." I was putting all these things together. I had my notes out.

I love using the iPad. Literally, I run my whole company off of the iPad now. Traveling, on the airplane, it doesn't really matter. My whole team is scattered across the country in real estate. I'm able to do everything on the iPad.

Rene: It's remarkable. Ironically, I'm using the Macbook Pro right now because I'm recording the audio and the video. We just can't do that on iPad yet. I hope we can one day. I hope we get to be able to do all the fancy audio stuff, but we can't.

When I did the HomePod video, I was using my iPad because I travel with it. I take it on airplanes. I take it to coffee shops. It's got a constant Internet connection. It's super light. The battery lasts forever. It lets me do...

I can have a website on one, have Safari on one split view. I can have notes on the other split view when I'm writing. To me, it's not as...I go back and forth on this analogy.

When my father used to be an engineer at IBM back in the punch-card days, they moved to mainframes. Then, eventually, he got an Apple II Plus at home because there was a subset of things that he could do without having to drive downtown to IBM.

Then, I had computers for a long time. I got a Trio and then an iPhone. They couldn't replace my Mac, but they could do a subset of really important things that I didn't have to run back to my Mac all the time.

Now, I have iPad and Apple Watch, as well, and iPad can do a little bit more than my iPhone. Apple Watch can't do anything nearly what my iPhone can do, but there's still a subset of really important, really frequent, really repetitive tasks that I can do without even having to reach for an iPhone, an iPad.

I'm wearing this. I don't know if you can see this on the video. I'll turn this down for a second. I'm wearing this famous Phil Schiller graphics shirt, which shows the different screens.

He had this really great talk where he said that we want to make iPhone so good that it forces iPad to better, and iPad so good it forces Mac to be better. Then, Mac has to get so good that it puts pressure back on iPad. I like that philosophy so much.

Clayton: I love the back and forth between these devices. The things that we see are powerful on the iPhone, we hope will come to the iPad. The things that we saw that were powerful on the iPad, like True Tone display, being able to then move to the iPhone 10, which I love. The things that are powerful on the Mac, being able to go over to the iPad.

Just looking through some of the apps, to give you an idea of some of the workflow stuff, some of this might seem a little archaic. I created a new photos line for my contractors.

When we were rehabbing 15, 30 properties, they're coming across the finish line at any given time. It's hard enough makings sure the contractors get us photos when they're finished with their project.

I wanted to create one repository. Right now, we use...because contractors are also not terribly tech savvy. They're in the field working their butts off and they do fantastic work, but they're not using Dropbox, they're not using Slack. We created one Google Voice line. I use Google Voice on the iPad.

As the photos come in from different properties, my team is able to take those right off the iPad, drag them over, move them into Dropbox. Label that folder for that particular property. Go into the Slack channel in a third-pane window right there on the iPad Pro, be able to type in, "123 Main Street, photos uploaded," to the photos channel on Slack.

My team knows that property is ready to go. The Pro is incredibly powerful if you make sure that some of the apps are updated.

I wish that Google Voice could do drag and drop. Come on, that would change everything for me, if I could just drag those photos right over to Dropbox.

Machine Learning

Rene: I remember when they were first introducing the new generation of processors, the A11 Bionic. They were showing some of the core ML, the core machine learning technology.

One of the apps was real estate based. I was in the middle of selling my condo at my old place at the time, and buying this new place, where I'm shooting this video right now.

I had no idea which photos to use. Luckily, I had a real estate agent with 20 years of experience. He was like, "You want to start off with this kind of shot, you never want to start off with the bathroom, but you want to have it, you show the sun."

They had gone and ingested information from a thousand real estate agents about how they picked photographs and trained. They talk about machine learning. It's not like programming a computer. It's like training a pet. It's like, "Good computer, good computer, you got it, you got the right thing."

It knew what people liked in terms of photographs for real estate. It may not be perfect, but it would do all the heavy lifting. It would get you down to the 15 shots. You could tweak them if you wanted to, but it saved you the three hours of picking out all of those shots.

Clayton: It's incredible what's going to be able to be done with this device. I have a couple of my project managers in the field. I can think of them.

When I go out and visit our properties, we're in the truck driving around, all on iPads, being able to update in real time. "Drywall is in, plumbing is completed on this one, roof is done," right there on the iPad using LTE.

Obviously, there's all kinds of things that I don't even scratch the surface on, workflows, and all sort of different things. We're using a lot of Webhooks and Zapier automations now that integrate right with Slack. As these updates come in, it's notifying my entire team.

We're getting notifications right on the iPad, right on the iPhone, when we're out in the field. It's a game-changer.

Rene: It was funny because I actually sold this. They did briefings for the iPhone 10 in New York City. Apple has a lot of briefings in New York now. I had just finished at Serenity Caldwell's wedding.

I was planning to take the train straight to New York to the briefing, but they'd had hurricane-level winds. The trees fell down and the trains were blocked. They said, "The train is never coming," so I grabbed my bags and I ran.

I found a bus. I jumped on the bus going to New York, and they were like, "Oh, we sold your condo, but we need you to sign these papers."

Normally, I would be freaking out, but I just pulled out my iPad, literally tapped the screen with a pencil, because you have instant markup now. The email came in, I tapped the PDF, it blew up, I signed it. I tapped "send back." It sent the signed copy back to the real estate agent.

I was done in two minutes, on a rickety bus. It was 5:00 in the morning, in the wind and the rain, heading to New York City, desperate to make a briefing. It was one less thing I had to worry about.

iPad in business

Clayton: We looked at one thing for our business, our sales cycle, which was when a property comes in, we have it available for sale. What was the holdup?

A lot of it had to do with people needing to print out PDFs at home and then find a scanner to scan it back to us. When we moved away from that system and we moved to a dotloop or DocuSign -- people commonly know those -- our sales cycle decreased from four weeks down to four days.

Rene: Wow.

Clayton: A ridiculous drop because of technology, and because we were able to be more efficient in our business, our business improved. We were able to better serve out clients.

You'd have a lot of people that were like, "I'm just so frustrated. I want this property, but I don't have a printer. I have to wait till I get to work on Monday to even get this thing printed."

Rene: I haven't had a printer in 10 years.


Clayton: Right. In fact, I was just redoing my whole office, my home office. I was getting rid of so much clutter, taking everything out of there. I really want it to be a Zen, meditative space where I can sit and do morning meditation. Have it be clean of all this garbage, and just the desk with my 27-inch iMac.

I had it in the back corner I had a filing cabinet with a giant printer on it. I got rid of all of it. I pulled it out in the hallway and I said to my wife, "I don't need this printer anymore." She said, "Really?"

I said, "When? Why would I need a printer? Why? It's taking up so much space, it's annoying. Why don't I put it downstairs and plug it in? If it's still on WiFi, if I have to run down once a month to print something out, I won't have to see it. I'll run downstairs to the basement and grab it off in the furnace room."

Rene: Yeah, I got rid of mine. Once in a while, it has bitten me, especially for government stuff. Otherwise, it's incredibly liberating.

Because I know you're a photographer, do you move your photography stuff over to iPad now? Is that still on your iMac?

Clayton: That's something I've actually been really looking at in the past. Jason Snell and I talked about this quite a bit. Obviously, he's such a big photos fan and has written deeply about it. I think a few Apple events ago, we were talking about that workflow.

At the time, I was using Lightroom. I was taking a lot of landscape photography and things. I shifted over more to the kids because now we've got three kids. I'm doing a lot more portraits and stuff when I can, when I have the time, or when we're on vacations and things.

I was getting sick of having to use Adobe, having to use Lightroom, and having to pay for that subscription service every month. Then, ingesting those photos and being able to manipulate them at home when I get back to my iMac. Now, I just use photos on the iPad. I use Apple's photos app on the iPad.

We were in Turks and Caicos over Christmastime. I brought the camera connection kit, plugged my SD card right in there.

Imported the photos that I love, deleted the ones that I didn't. The raw files, able to go through and manipulate, add some different color, color correction and things, because I'm a big believer in, if you've got a raw photo, you should be color correcting it no matter what.

Being able to do that right on the iPad, or then, wait, now it's syncing. Now, it's all in the cloud. I could just wait till I got back to the United States in order to go into photos that way and manipulate some of the photos that I took -- incredibly powerful.

What's a computer?

Rene: I know people are upset with that ad that Apple ran, "What's a computer?" The line at the end, you can take many different ways. You can take it as Apple being provocative. You can take it as Apple being contentious just so that people talk about he ad, or you can take it just like the girl being sarcastic to her mother.

I love that ad so much because I think it was my favorite iPad ad since the one from iPad 2, where they had Peter Coyote going, "Technology alone is not enough." That was a brilliant ad.

This one, it showed the liberation that can come with an iPad workflow. I've been trying, I still can't do that awesome way she folds up the cover by smacking it on a table. She just takes it everywhere.

It's an exaggeration. Up into a tree, into an alleyway, all these things, but it shows that you can have this device with you all the time through the full range of activities that you want to do. It's perfectly capable of not only being with you, but scaling with you. I thought that was really topical in that commercial.

Clayton: I find it so intuitive and so powerful. I've got my little smart keyboard case and it goes with me everywhere.

I've got my Netatmo Weather Station, being able to check the weather, and then download a bunch of videos using YouTube Red before my flight. Then, being able to have a sidebar of Notes app running where I can do write-up, work on the speech that I'm working on, pull a keynote out, and build that out.

The other day, my assistant said, "We don't have any updated letterhead." I said, "I've got the logo stored on iCloud. I'll just do it right now on my iPad."

I pulled out Pages, using one of the letterhead templates was able to boom, boom, boom, add our logo. Here's our new letterhead. Save it over to iCloud and now you've got it on the Mac. Oh, I love it.

Rene: It's instant on, instant everywhere. That's the real benefit of it is, again, it doesn't do as much as a Mac, as an iMac Pro, for example.

The iMac Pro, you can carry it to Starbucks, you can be that person. Don't be that person, but you could be. The iPad is with you all the time. It can do enough stuff that you never have to slow down. You're never waiting for the computer. It's always with you.

Clayton: I love it as my backend for YouTube, as well. Google actually, it's funny how they do some things for iPad poorly and other things for iPad very well.

For instance, YouTube Studio, I'm not sure now with your YouTube channel if you're using it. Being able to go into YouTube Studio as an app on the iPad, I check it every morning to see what's happening within my channel, seeing the health, the audience, analytics.

It's incredibly powerful. I can change metadata. I can change descriptions. I can update all sorts of things right inside the YouTube app, on the YouTube Studio app. It's funny. That's right on my dock because I use it so much, this incredible app from Google. Yet, they can't do certain things with Google Sheets and Docs. [laughs]

I don't know what their intention is. I cant' figure it out.

What's next?

Rene: What's the next step, Clayton? What's the next big thing you're working on? Are you still working on your studio? Do you have any other projects or next levels you want to take stuff to?

Clayton: Yeah. For the company, I want to be able to produce, every Wednesday at 11:00 AM Eastern, a live stream that's consistent around wealth building to help people. I made it my goal this year to try to serve people as much as I can to help them build wealth.

We didn't get this financial education in high school, and so to help as many people as I can with all this free content. You can literally go through the channel and change your life, I hope. That's the goal.

Rene: Get a bachelor's degree in wealthonomics.

Clayton: Yeah. In fact, my video editor, he came to me. I didn't think he would, but he came to me six months ago and he's like, "I have to say this." I'm not saying this as a pat on the back, but because he has to edit every video, he's like, "My wife and I have completely changed the way that we think about wealth, and I want to do this now. I want to start here."

That's incredibly exciting to me. I'm working on a book because I retired at 40. The book will be around that idea of how to retire at 40 using cash flow and buying performing assets.

I've got to carve out some time. With me hiring my assistant, getting some other people in place, to carve out some of that white space time in 2018 where I can actually focus on writing. Get some of that stuff out to people and try to do a lot more speaking engagements, as well. I'm looking forward to doing more of that this year.

Rene: Is there anything you're looking or you're hoping that Apple will do either on iOS 12 or future iPad hardware, something that would let you do your job better, or more easily, more fully?

Clayton: That's a great question. I think we've all lamented the idea of getting podcast audio on the iPad, being able to do that. If I could just bring my iPad and travel, not have to worry about how I'm going to plug in a microphone and actually go live, do something like that. Being able to have that functionality would be fantastic, just some more refinements.

I'm really excited about iOS 12 from the rumors we're hearing that it's going to be a Snow Leopard update. I'm really excited about those refinements.

I'm sure that some of the speed, and bells and whistles, it will be major changes under the hood. Some of the things that I already love about iOS 11, I would love to see drilled in even more. Some of the things that I rely on, you know that I love voice text, sending voice messages.

I love I'll send you a voice message and you respond with text. My whole team uses that. Some of those added little bells and whistles that can really refine that experience for speed and efficiency when I'm out in the field or my contractors are out in the field, being able to use this technology more efficiently.

Rene: I'm terrible. I always answer your voice messages with texts. That's because I blame you. Your app, Quick Read, got me reading so quickly that I can just parse text so fast.

With the voice ones, I'm waiting for them. I'm starting to type and then I'm waiting for them to keep talking. I'm starting to type, so I revert to text, but I have to give voice more...I love the idea of voice. I have to give it more of a shot.

Clayton: I was a talker for a living, a writer for a living, so I guess that comes naturally.

Rene: [laughs] All right, Clayton Morris, if people are interested in checking out your YouTube channel, following you on Twitter, where can they go?

Clayton: I think the best thing if you love Vector, you love podcasts, come over and check out, if you're interested in creating wealth and passive income. We teach you how to do it. That's my podcast. It's called a very generic name. It's called "The Investing in Real Estate Podcast with Clayton Morris.'

It's very boring, but, hey, it serves its purpose. Then, my YouTube channel is Morris Invest on YouTube. We've got about 200 videos there. We publish three times a week to help you figure out this crazy world of real estate investing and how to start building monthly cash flow. That's really the best way to connect with me.

Rene: That's awesome. Clayton, thank you so much. Please give my best to Natalie and the kids.

Clayton: Thank you so much. Give my best to the whole iMore team. I love you guys.

Rene: Will do. Same here. Thank you.


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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.