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…

Nozbe Core Values: Passion, Simplicity, Freedom and Fairness


Over the last almost 17 years of running Nozbe we’ve developed our main values that dictate how we run our business, how we build our product and how we treat our customers and each other. But we never really codified them. Before our last Nozbe Reunion in Katowice I decided to finally review all we’ve written about our values, commandments and in the end I made my team go through the entire process to finally agree on 4 core values that will guide our decisions going forward. These are: Passion, Simplicity, Freedom and Fairness. In this post I’ll explain what these values mean to us, why we chose them and how we got here:

Nozbe Core Values: Passion, Simplicity, Freedom and Fairness

Nozbe CORE values: PSFF!

We’re not great at acronyms. The name Nozbe stands for to be naturally organized and in the end we didn’t invent values that would create a great acronym, so PSFF it is! Kind of like: “P.S. FF”

1️⃣ Passion

Some say passion is overrated. That you shouldn’t be searching for passion. However, I don’t believe that.

I even wrote a book about it: It’s All About Passion. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, famously encouraged students to search for what they’re passionate about:

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

At Nozbe we are passionate about productivity, we swear by weekly reviews as we are developing our Nozbe productivity app. I wouldn’t be running my company if I wasn’t passionate about it. I wouldn’t be celebrating some of my co-workers’ decade-long employment at Nozbe if they weren’t passionate about it, too.

We are here for the long haul, because we’re passionate about productivity and about helping other solo, micro and small businesses thrive thanks to Nozbe.

2️⃣ Simplicity

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid! One of the key features of Nozbe compared to other productivity tools is that it’s simple to start with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a powerful tool, but it’s simple to use and we strive to make it even simpler - especially as we change habits of entrepreneurs and teams using Nozbe, we want to make it as effortless for them as possible.

To make our tool seem simple, we need to really think hard and solve really complicated problems on the back-end. But the end game is simplicity. Nozbe started as a simple take on Getting Things Done methodology. One of the first press articles that helped us find our footing was the one from late Marc Orchant on ZDnet, titled aptly: Nozbe - a new GTD web app that keeps it simple.

Simplicity is our core value and my commitment to all Nozbe users: Nozbe will always remain the one and only productivity tool that helps you manage your personal and business life in one app in a simple way.

3️⃣ Freedom

Like many entrepreneurs I started my company because I wanted to be free to do what I wanted. And I still want that. We don’t have investors telling us what to do, we don’t work on day-to-day stuff on Fridays, we work at #NoOffice - remotely from our homes. We are free to work from anywhere and decide on our flexible working hours.

Work is not a place to go, it’s a thing to do!

We are free to design Nozbe the way we want. Even better - we want our Nozbe users to enjoy the same type of freedom so we’re baking in features that let them have that!

Freedom also means we’re increasingly more transparent with each other, with our customers, with our audience, with the world. Freedom also means trust. We believe that:

Control is good. But trust is so much better!

We are also free to make mistakes, change our minds, try new things, work on any device we want (#iPadOnly anyone?).

We are also free to have FUN 🤩 while we’re at it!

4️⃣ Fairness

Life is not fair. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was? So we want it to be. When given a choice, we prefer to be treated fairly and treat others fairly.

That’s why we’ve equaled the prices of Nozbe Personal and Nozbe and set new pricing rules. To be fair to our customers.

That’s why we have a Salary Formula where setting salaries in our team is not secret but very transparent.

Now as we’re preparing for the Black Friday offer of Nozbe (stay tuned!) we’ve also made sure it’s fair so we gave the same offer to current and new customers in the world, where all other companies prepare better offers to non-users to acquire them and treat long-time users badly. We want to keep treating our users fairly and give them the best customer service.

Passion, Simplicity, Freedom and Fairness - these CORE VALUES help us make good decisions.

As Rand Fishkin shared in my #NoOffice podcast, CORE VALUES help you make better decisions.

When in doubt, filter your decisions against your core values. All decisions: product, content, hiring, everything! Do people we have on our team align with our values?

How do these values compare to what I’ve written about our values before?

We’ve posted 7 values in the past where we stated that (1) we are free (2) we trust each other, (3) we work asynchronously, (4) we are mobile, (5) we live on the cutting edge, (6) we help others and (7) we question everything. These were our principles but not really core values. This was more how we worked, not why.

Now when you think about it, all these 7 things are in our 4 PSFF core values.

The 17 commandments of work also are aligned with these four values. Completely.

When I wrote the WHY OF NOZBE: hybrid work, good productivity habits, effortless collaboration, work-life balance and fun - it’s all contained in these 4 core values.

How we got to these values? The Nozbe way!

The process to figure out these core values was the same we usually follow when we do things at Nozbe:

  1. I reviewed all our writings about values from the past and did a brainstorm on core values with other articles I found on the Internet.
  2. I wrote it up for my team in a comment in a task in Nozbe with my suggestion for 5 core values: Simplicity, Trust, Humility, Fairness and Joy.
  3. People read it asynchronously and thought about it.
  4. We met on Nozbe Reunion where I made a presentation on these values again.
  5. There was a discussion and instead of the proposed 5 core values, we landed on four. We simplified it even more!

We basically decided that Trust and Humility are better described in Freedom. And Joy is also kind of in there together with Passion.

This is the outcome, but just take a look at this 5-step process in detail:

  1. Review of values by someone (me!)
  2. Proposal for people to read and think about.
  3. Feedback asynchronously first and more thinking.
  4. Meeting only when everyone took it all in.
  5. Discussion that led to the final outcome.

This is how we get things done at Nozbe.

After all, at Nozbe Meetings are regular, optional and well prepared. We are free to choose this way of doing meetings and reaching our decisions.

P.S.F.F. Passion, Simplicity, Freedom and Fairness!

If you’re a Nozbe customer or user, make sure to verify if we truly live by these values and feel free to point it out to us if we don’t!

Monday, November 13, 2023 /nozbe-values/