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…

Why peer support is critical to your success


As John Bon Jovi says: “No man is an island”. We live in a connected world and we interact with other people… and we can choose to make these people a part of our success. Every “productivity guru” will tell you that one of the most effective ways to change a habit is ask for “peer support”. Having done that for a while now, I’d say that having a network of peers in most important aspects of your life is critical to your success. Here are some of my examples:

Why peer support is critical to your success

Writing the iPad-only series of posts is so much fun for me… especially trying out new way of working, only on my iPad, is pure fun and a great challenge. 10 posts into it I knew I wanted to write a book about the experience… but how could I? I have not time. I’m too busy to write a book, I’m running Nozbe and we’ve just launched apps for all the major platforms… I wanted to write it… but I knew I couldn’t… and then I read a blog post by a good friend of mine and realized there was a way to get this done. Here’s what I did:

Peer writing - my first self-published book… with a friend

I read a blog post by Augusto Pinaud - a good friend of mine and a fellow GTD enthusiast who is a sales-person turned writer and works almost exclusively on his iPad, just like me. Immediately after reading his post (about working on the iPad) I fired up the email app and wrote a short email: “Augusto, you might not know it yet, but we are writing an #iPadOnly book together. What say you? :-)”

Fast forward to today, and we’ve got half of the book written already, we’re supporting each other and thanks to having Augusto as my partner-in-crime in this I’m forced to write. I’m forced to wake up earlier and write, I’m forced to make time to write as we both agreed we’d do it.

I’m learning a lot, I’m writing a lot and we’re both having the time of our lives. And thanks to this focus on writing, I’m working even more efficiently on Nozbe to make sure I can find the time for all of this. This is the power of peer support.

BTW, expect the “#iPadOnly” book to hit your virtual bookshelves at the end of May. Augusto and I are pouring our hearts and souls into this one.

Peer fitness training - from running 120km in one year, to 260 a year later and 500km now…

My wife is a runner. She finally convinced me to run when I realized I could not only get back in shape but also read books (aka listen to audiobooks) in the process. And I was doing pretty good - I ran almost once a week in 2011 and the first half of 2012… and was getting better, reaching 6km in a single run.

The whole thing changed dramatically when I asked my neighbor, an avid runner, to run with me once a week. He agreed to give it a try. We loved it, had a blast and even though he is better than me (way better!) he liked our running sessions. We’d run and chat the whole time and have a blast each time. We’re both looking forward to every Tuesday at 9:30 am for our run together.

Apart from being a great social activity, I started improving, being under pressure from a better runner… and we quickly moved to running 8km runs and now we’re regularly doing 10km runs and at a very good pace. I finished the year 2012 with 260km (more than double the year before) and now I’m targeting 500 km this year (again, want to double my last year’s score). And I’m planning to run my first half-marathon this year. All thanks to peer support.

Peer mentoring - helping each other grow in business

My friend Wiktor, who’s running the biggest Ruby programming and outsourcing house in Poland, suggested we should do something like “peer mentoring” - meaning we should get together every month for a short 1-hour Skype session and talk about how we run our businesses. What works for us, what doesn’t. What we recently discovered, introduced, canceled… just share the experiences and exchange ideas. We’ve been doing it for a few months now (with a few exceptions) and I’d say it works really great for both of us. I’ve learned a lot from Wiktor and hopefully he’s learned a thing or two from me. We’re looking forward to each session… and it’s only once a month, so we’re not getting tired of each other (yet).

Peer mentoring works for us, because:

Apart from Wiktor, I also have a few mentors who help me shape my company and I make sure to call them regularly to exchange ideas and learn from the guys who are a lot wiser than me.

Tap into your peer network and grow!

These are just a few examples. Thanks to my peers I’m becoming a better businessman, writer and I’m getting back in shape. It’d be a lot harder to do it all on my own.

Question: Do you ask your peers for help and support? How do you “use” your peer network to become a better person? What works for you?

Monday, April 8, 2013 /peers/