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…

It's All About Passion » Chapter 5 - Passion 4: Industry

Chapter 5 - Passion 4: Industry

You will develop a passion for your industry!

Passion 4: Industry

“There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.” - Tony Robbins, motivational speaker

It all starts with the product…

As mentioned in the opening chapter of this book, by running a productivity application I’m in the “productivity industry”. Yes, it is an Internet startup type of company but I’m not in the “startup industry”. This made me realize how much I could still improve my personal (as well as my team’s) productivity and organizational skills. It all started with improving Nozbe (my product) based on my users’ feedback.

Nozbe users keep sending me great suggestions for improvements. My team at Nozbe is listening carefully. Although we never want to clutter our app with as many features as possible, we do learn a lot from our users. It turns out some features we planned can be implemented in a better or more efficient way… and other enhancements we actually never thought about. We keep learning a lot from Nozbe users.

But it went beyond my app. Reading about productivity “hacks” I started learning even more. I discovered lots of blogs with some fantastic ideas that influenced me to improve my life and my own skills. I started to be more passionate about the whole “productivity industry” but not for the sake of it, but to improve my life, learn more and simply grow as a better person and better CEO of my company.

…and leads to discovering your industry

My passion for the industry proved to be so powerful that I decided not just to learn but to quickly give back to others. I wanted to try things out myself and report back to the community on what I learned.

After the app, a magazine was born.

This is how I got the idea for the Productive! Magazine. When a friend of mine read my 10-step “getting things done with Nozbe” course he told me to publish it in a form of a magazine. It ignited even a better idea. Why not just approach some of the best productivity bloggers on the planet and ask them to write a piece for a magazine? Or just take some of their writings if they agree?

Many agreed and I got to choose and edit some of the best pieces of productivity advice. Doing that, I learned a lot myself and by publishing it in a PDF magazine, I managed to give back quickly to the community. Thanks to the magazine not only did I manage to get to know fantastic and really smart people but also I got to learn a lot from them and had a chance to give it all back to the community. The magazine is a success and editing it is still a lot of fun for me.

Last year I hired an executive editor for the magazine and we made it even better. Now Productive! Magazine is a monthly… and we even converted it to an iPad, iPhone and Android app… and we quickly started doing franchises all over the world! Now, apart from the global franchise, we’ve got Productive! Magazine Polska (in Polish), Productive! Magazine Japan (in Japanese) and Productive! Magazine Spanish … and more franchises will open up pretty soon. We’re truly giving back on a global level.

Later there was the video show (podcast).

To show what I’ve learned myself I even decided to record a bi-weekly Productive! Show where in a form of quick videos I share what I’ve learned and what works or doesn’t work for me. Apparently people are actually paying attention and I get to inspire other folks to try out and learn some new tips and tricks to improve their lives. It does really feel great.

And a 10-step productivity course.

Although I run Nozbe and would love for everyone to use it as their daily productivity tool, I know my tool is not for everyone. Some people might not like it or prefer a different thing. And that’s OK. When you’re passionate about your industry you stop caring so much whether people would use your product. You’d start caring if they used anything at all to get better. You’d want them to keep solving their problems.

This is why I recorded a 10 Steps To Ultimate Productivity course and put it for free on our Nozbe web site. The course is about productivity. Yes, I do mention my product every now and then when it’s relevant, but the course is not about my product. It’s about the same thing my industry is about - helping people be more productive and lead a happier, more organized life. There isn’t a day that I don’t get an email thanking me for the course. If I didn’t have passion for the industry, I’d never come up with a course like this, let alone spend my time, money and energy on recording it… in 5 different languages (English, Polish, Spanish, German and Japanese).

“Passion is what fuels the best of what we do. It’s that tireless drive to do something that we feel matters that will bring us forward in so many ways.”

  • Chris Brogan, author of “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth”

It's all about passion - 14

Getting better and building personal brand

My passion for the industry resulted in something much more profound than just getting better and growing. People started looking up to me and actually seeing that there is a real guy behind this Nozbe thing and he actually cares. That he cares for the community and cares for the industry.

With my magazine, show, course and personal blog, I managed to build a lot more trust and rapport with my community than I’d have ever done by just running the app.

Many pundits think I do the magazine and show just to promote my app but I do it to learn, grow and gain more trust from my current users. I get to give them more than just an app - I deliver them free, proven advice that hopefully will improve their life as much as it has impacted mine.

I get to show that I am for real, that I care and that I really want them to get more done and be more productive. Yes, by building my personal brand I do get a few more customers in the long run, but it’s not that by mentioning Nozbe in the magazine I get some crazy conversion rates. I don’t, but I do it nonetheless because I do care. If I based my decisions whether to keep the magazine running or not on just looking at cold hard facts, I’d give it up a long time ago. The magazine doesn’t bring me as many users as many think it does… but that never was the point.

We’re back to the discussion on money - thanks to the fact that Nozbe is doing great, I can spend some of that money to give back to the community and keep reigniting my passion for the industry. And that’s a really cool thing.

The same applies to this book. I just want to share what I’ve learned running my business and hopefully inject more passion into your idea which might help you succeed.

“Recently I turned 40. (…) I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m very fortunate however to be passionate about many things: my family, my clients, music, and (of course) my Mac. With so many interests, I’m simply too busy to feel old.”

  • David Sparks, author of “Paperless”

Passion for industry brings a few surprises

To be honest, I didn’t care if my passion for the industry would ever pay off. It just resulted from all the other passions I had before. I wanted to do it and I didn’t set any expectations. Well, as with every kind of passion in this book, I was in for a treat.

First off, my users got happier knowing there is a real person behind the app they are using daily to get organized. They started responding more to me and to my advice. What is the coolest, they also started giving back. They realized they can do the very same thing :-)

Second surprise was to see how many new people I got to meet. Many of them were very high-profile folks and still they wanted to talk to me. It was humbling and exciting. I got to learn a lot from them and grow quite a bit. Every month I get to do an interview with a really fantastic person thanks to the fact that I’m the editor in chief of the biggest global magazine on productivity. I have access to people who wouldn’t talk to me if I was just a small app developer who didn’t care about their industry.

Third thing is that again - people take you more seriously when you actually care and share what you think. Basecamp (formerly 37signals) - a company I admire - share their design and business philosophy on their blogs and in their books (I highly recommend “Rework”). They are my gurus because of that.

All these passions are growth experiences…

Your passion for money, solution, product and industry lead to an explosive growth. Both on your personal and team level. Having run Nozbe more than 7 years now helped me grow as a person, CEO and team builder… and teaches me to grow my team and company even more… and results in yet another passion which we’ll explore in the next chapter.