Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

CEO of a small company needs to eat his dogfood. It’s yummy!


A few days ago we launched Nozbe Translation Platform - a way for our users to help us contribute to Nozbe translations and help us bring our productivity app to their countries in their native language. As I’ve lived in Spain and speak Spanish fluently, I decided to contribute and help with the Nozbe translation to Spanish… and I’ve found very interesting things in the process…

CEO of a small company needs to eat his dogfood. It’s yummy!

I’m the CEO who does the actual work, too

Nozbe is being run by a small team of three, there’s me (CEO), my lead developer Tom (CTO) and my assistant Delfina (CHO - Customer Happiness Officer :-) so we’re all working on Nozbe together. Resources are scarce by design - I love running a small company and getting the actual, meaningful job done - I know it may not be what they teach you in the management books, but for me a good manager delegates what others do better and does what he does best… and contributes where he can and is always there to help his team.

By doing the actual work, I became a translator myself…

That’s the thing. By doing the translation myself, I became a translator, I’ve put myself in the translator’s shoes and experienced all the positives and negatives of our translation system. I very quickly found out where the system is not clear about the translation, where things can be improved, how the whole thing works.

By becoming a translator, I quickly knew how to improve the system

The translation platform is an “app within the app”, so it’s a separate application within Nozbe, and it has to rock. After all folks are devoting their private time to help us translate and we should do everything we can to make their job easier and faster.

If I didn’t try it, I wouldn’t know about any of this

Translators would eventually send us their feedback, some already have… but it would take a lot more time and a lot of folks would get discouraged. By having me on board as a translator, I knew about the most important things first hand, sent my feedback to my CTO and we posted the improvements to the server today already!

Eating your dogfood is crucial to your success as a startup

I use Nozbe every day. We (the entire company :-) use Nozbe every day. I know all about the features there, bugs, glitches and because I use it daily for my projects and actions, there are no mission-critical bugs there and the most annoying bugs get fixed pretty quickly and the rest of them are being done in their due time, too.

Launch, use it, test it, iterate and keep on using

We launched the translation system, I’ve been using it, our customers have been using it, we quickly solved the first glitches and will keep on improving as we use it and bring more translations on board. It’s fun, and it’s really productive and makes sure our translators (myself included) do a great job.

Bringing Nozbe to the folks in your country is something I’m excited about!

I’m very psyched about this project. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do: to bring the concept of Simple Getting Things Done to people all around the world who don’t even know who David Allen is (and what GTD is). Nozbe will be the first truly global productivity app that will teach people the power of “Next Actions”, “Contexts” and “Projects” and a regular “Review”. I can’t wait to make it all happen!

Sidenote: Don’t worry about my Spanish :-)

OK, so I do speak Spanish very well, but I’m not native… but don’t worry, my very good friend, artist Miguel Guia is helping me by going over my translations and correcting them for proper Spanish if necessary, and we’ve got other translators helping me out as well. Thanks everyone, you’re doing a great job! It’s a community effort and it’s fantastic :-)

P.S. If you’re interested in translating Nozbe, watch this video and read the tips and tricks I posted today.

Question: As a CEO/Manager, do you do the actual work? Do you sometimes get the real work done, aside from managing people? How does it feel? What does it teach you?