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…

#publicNozbe - simply help someone in Japan


It’s been a few days since I’m back in Europe after my Japanese “earthquake-powered” trip. Still can’t believe what happened and how the earthquake has impacted my life and the life of my Japanese friends.

After the earthquake hit, we thought about several ideas of how we can help Japanese people and together with @Zonostyle and my other Japanese friends we came up with #publicNozbe projects - free share-able public Nozbe projects. Click here to read the full story, it’s really worth reading.

Since then, the Japanese community has embraced the project and taken it from there:

#publicNozbe - simply help someone in Japan

How a small project can have a big impact - thanks to the Community

When I came up with the idea for #publicNozbe projects, I knew I had something great in my hands… but the Japanese people and their idea for sharing useful information had even a better idea. This post is about how a free project from a commercial company can be embraced and owned by the community to create something totally brilliant. Here are the steps:

1. The idea - to share information

In times of crisis, people share information between each other. Especially in Japan - so my idea for #publicNozbe was that people should be able to easily share public to-do lists and pass them on via Twitter and Facebook and view them on their smartphones as well as old-school internet-capable mobile phones.

2. The Community felt empowered and wanted to help.

When together with my friend Kurazono Keizo-san we presented the project idea in Fukuoka, we held a brainstorming session with local social media experts and they had several ideas how this can be useful and encouraged me to move forward. They immediately started brainstorming their Facebook and Twitter ideas how to spread the news and gather really useful public projects to share with the world.

3. We coded and community was working for our mission

When I got back to the hotel to code (practically all night), the community was scanning twitter and facebook for useful information and gathered first ideas for public projects. It was a team effort. A team of people whom I hardly knew, most of whom were hardly Nozbe users. But this didn’t matter - our common ground was a sense of purpose and a mission to help those in need.

4. Community worked even more… for 72 hours straight.

We launched the #publicNozbe feature in 24 hours but the community kept on going and started generating first public project ideas. They worked for three days straight, creating more than 200 Nozbe public projects with lots of useful information. The news was spreading quickly through Facebook and Twitter.

5. Contributions and owning the project - web site, logo and more…

The folks from the community contributed in various ways - they set up web site with the list of most useful public project lists.

Logo and Facebook

The official project facebook page has a great spin-off of the Nozbe logo with a slogan: Simply Help Someone.

#publicNozbe - simply help someone in Japan 2

My co-workers did help a little, too. But all in all, I just watched it develop and loved every moment of this community-driven effort. It’s beyond my control now - it’s beyond the control of Nozbe - it’s a community-driven project that is here to help and thanks to leaders like my best friend Kurazono Keizo-san and others, the project has its own life and helps Japanese people in these trying times.

Many companies are afraid when the community decides to own a feature they have or a part of their business. I can tell you that not only I wasn’t afraid, I was empowered to work on something that changes lives and helps others. Together with my great Japanese community.

Some people say that my trip to Japan was badly timed with earthquake and all. I’d like to believe that I was sent there to start something that will change me forever… and hopefully will change and empower other lives, too. And I don’t deserve the credit - the community should get it. They did it and I was just a part of that. This project really changed my life.

What are the projects about?

The projects are about the useful information: list of things to do when earthquake hits, list of things you need in case of medical problems, list of tips that help deal with power shortages, list of necessary pills and other medical equipment needed, list of many tips regarding other earthquake/tsunami related issues… etc.

Doctors share their information, mums contact each other and share tips, other specialists offer their help and the community helps them create and publish public projects… the collaboration is beyond amazing and every day people want to help even more.

The results after a little more than a week.

Apart from the great feeling of purpose and empowerment we all felt, let me quote some of the stats behind this project.

Here’s the link to official #publicNozbe page with more information:

#publicNozbe - simply help someone in Japan 3