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Friday, August 22

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 1 [Part 1]

Note: This is a third excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!" - The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

Chapter 1 - 7 types of passion

"Passion is not something you go after as an end in itself. It's rather a symptom of your engagement with anything into which you are fully immersed. It's also not something you usually know you have. Others notice your full involvement with something and they call it ‘passion’. I just call it doing what I feel like doing."

David Allen, the originator of Getting Things Done

It's all about passion - chapter 1.1

How my dreams came true

I discovered the Internet in 1996 (half-way through high school). Wow. Being able to connect from the comfort of my home to a person on the other side of the globe was magical. With this, I thought, anything was possible.

I started college in 1998 and began to understand how business could be done over the Internet. Going through the "Internet bubble of 2000" I discovered the concept of a "startup" and of course, a few months later a concept of a "bubble" and "a failed startup". Somewhere in between there was another concept of "new economy" which I never understood so let's just leave it at that.

Even though most of the Internet startups failed at that time, I was lured into a dream of running a company that could exist only on the Internet and offer products or services to people all over the world digitally. I thought it wasn't a "new economy" but it most definitely was a new "paradigm shift".

I graduated in 2003 and even though I was advised to apply for one of these hot-shot top jobs in my country, I decided not work for a big corporation. I had a great resume, spoke several languages and had a chance at a great career in a multi-national company, but I just wasn't interested. Still remembering that fall of 2000 in Germany and my failed .COM project, I had a dream and I was desperate to make it a reality.

I started small and opened up my web consultancy (focused on e-commerce and Internet marketing) and apart from working for many clients and helping them sell their merchandise over the Internet I kept on building my own "startup projects" on the side.

I failed several times (which I'll explain later in more detail) until I finally succeeded by launching Nozbe in 2007. It was the moment of the Web2.0 "wave" and the idea of having, running or working for an Internet Startup became popular again. I'm running Nozbe to this day and I'm loving it.

Everyone wants to build a startup

What I found out soon after launching my startup was that in countless cities and campuses in almost every corner of the world young entrepreneurs meet to talk about projects they are building. These were very informal meetings aimed at exchanging ideas and connecting to build fantastic companies of the future... together.

I launched my startup completely alone (I was a one-man-shop) and in a city I didn't know well (back then, my wife and I had just moved to Warsaw, the capital of Poland). That's why talking to like-minded folks felt like fun and I began participating in many of these "startup meetings" and had a great time learning from my peers and sharing my experiences.

What I quickly discovered was that I wasn't so special. My "startup friends" were making the same mistakes I was, and repeating them at a rate similar to mine - all while trying to build something great. Or so they thought. Or so we all thought.

However, as common knowledge has it: "most startups fail" and I witnessed many failures over the past few years and I discovered that most of the time it all came down to one major reason:

Passion... or the lack of it

Passion is what inspires you and what gives you the drive to move forward. It gives you a reason to live. Working on a startup takes a huge amount of time and requires sacrifices in your private life with your family and friends. You have to work on a project without knowing if it will ever succeed. You have no clue if your effort will ever pay off.

That's why it is so important to be passionate about what you're doing. Without this, you are ten times more likely to fail.

"I think as long as you’re passionate about something, a similar audience will find you."

— MG Siegler, venture capitalist

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: Have you ever launched or thought of launching a startup? What was the most scary thing about it and what helped you overcome that fear?

Friday, August 15

✔ It's all about passion! - Introduction [part 2]

Note: This is another excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!" - The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

Introduction - continued...

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." - Oprah Winfrey

It's all about passion - intro 2

My first .COM

I got us the cheapest web hosting account I could find, my very own .COM domain and started coding away. We used old-school FTP to transfer files, chatted over ICQ, sent emails back and forth — the online collaboration was at full speed and we were making our new project a reality. When I wasn’t in my dorm room, we’d send text messages on our mobile phones. Just think about it, it was the first time I got myself my very own mobile phone! Yes, I was amazed how much Victor and I could get done although we weren’t physically in the same place or working at the same time.

We also chatted with our friend, Simon, who was already a successful Internet entrepreneur at that time. We got lots of inspiration from him and were blown away by his small Poland-based company making it big in the USA. We wanted to be like him. He is still my mentor to this day.

It was on the eve of dot-com boom when we launched our product — a small, social email reminder service. We started to charge $5 a month for it. Got a few first customers… and then we discovered such reminder services are offered free from most of the major Internet portals. We didn’t manage to get many more customers. Our product was great but not many people wanted to pay for it. Bummer.

Ultimately we closed down the service. It failed. Miserably. But we didn’t. We were inspired by the idea of building a kinda-company together, all remotely, all at a distance. The fact of connecting my small laptop to the Internet "pipe" and building a web-based application with a friend from "far and away" stayed engraved in my mind. And I never wanted to work in a different way.

It was the first time I discovered passion in my professional life. I was passionate about building this web app, about working with my friend located hundreds of miles away... and most of all, about the Internet and the possibilities it could bring. It was the first time I felt several types of passion within me, working for something truly great. I was happy.

Our project failed. I kept paying for the .COM domain every year out of nostalgia... and when 7 years later I launched my small time and project management application to help people around the world get things done, I used the same .COM name again... and this time the project succeeded beyond my wildest expectations and ironically helped me re-discover these several types of passion all over again. Now, after more than 7 years of running my startup I know I wouldn't have succeeded without all these passions.

Yes, you guessed it, the .COM I'm talking about here is Nozbe.com — my first serious college project... and today my company and my real "passionate" startup.

"As students, sitting far away from each other in front of our PCs, we developed a very efficient form of creation and communication in our project. However it wasn't enough to create what we had in our hearts: a great product. If you want to change the world, start with yourself. Start using your product. Become your first loyal customer. There is no other way to transform your hobby into a successful business." — Victor Mazur, built Internet projects with me in college

Why build a startup?

When young people decide to "build a startup", they very often do it for different reasons. Frequently for all the wrong reasons (like "fame and fortune"). And most of them fail. And folks actually don't know why they failed. I was there as well. But when you start with a passion for something and rediscover "new passions" along the way, you'll eventually succeed.

This book is about the types of passions I discovered within me and within my peers, colleagues, mentors and friends in all these years of running Nozbe. And why "these passions" helped me achieve success and happiness... and a feeling that even after so many years of running the same service, I'm "just getting started".

The Internet kindled my passion for building things, for working with people around the world, for finding a solution to a problem, for growing and learning new things, for helping others and ultimately for doing it all across time and distance. I will never forget the fall of 2000 in Germany when I first felt all this.

Now on to the 7 types of passion and what makes a passionate startup truly... passionate.

"If you’re passionate about your work, you won’t procrastinate — you’ll love doing it, and want to do 7 more. The habit to form here is to constantly seek things about which you’re passionate, and to see if you can make a career out of them when you find them. Make your life’s work something you’re passionate about, not something you dread doing, and your task list will almost seem like a list of rewards." - Leo Babauta, blogger at "Zen Habits"

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: How did you develop your interests? When did you start discovering your passion?

Thursday, August 14

✔ How I implemented Slow Carb Diet, lost 8kg/17lbs in 2 months - tips and tricks for beginners

Wow, I'm overwhelmed how many of my friends started to ask me about my diet/fitness transformation earlier this year. I lost more than 10% of my body weight, I'm very fit and people started to notice... and they want the same! I think it's great. This article is for anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling hungry (and no counting calories!) and who is capable of spending 2 months for that. Here's how I did it:

Slow Carb Diet results

Why Slow-carb diet - why is it different?

I heard about this diet a while ago but the word "diet" discouraged me to give it a try. I didn't want to count calories or feel hungry. Then I read the book Why we get fat and realized, I could give up carbohydrates and still eat until full... and lose weight! Well, I decided to give it a try.

Sidenote: On the photo "before" I'm about 74kg, on the photo "after" I'm about 66kg. You can still see the difference (my face, neck, etc..) but I have to admit that three years ago I weighted up to 80kg! So I'm about 14kg/30lbs lighter total than my last record :-)

Anyway, I read the book and learned about the slow-carb-diet on the Internet and in the 4-hour body book by Tim Ferriss and his blog post on Gizmodo and knew where to start. I liked that this diet lets me have a feast every 6 days and eat whatever I liked (more on that later) so I wouldn't feel like I'm really missing out on life. I was on the diet from mid-January to mid-March this year and not only have I stayed lean but I also lost additional 2kg after my diet ended. Here are my best tips and tricks:

Tuesday, August 12

✔ Interview with Crystal Paine "Money Saving Mom" for the Productive! Magazine No. 22

Today we're launching the summer (July/August) issue of our Productive! Magazine. You can browse it free or get our free Android, iPad or iPhone apps. Thank you!

Crystal Paine tells the story behind her MoneySavingMom.com which is one of the top personal finance blogs in the US with over 1.5 million visitors per month. She also explains why intentional money-spending and setting strict money-related rules is worth investing the time and how to compromise with your partner or spouse when it comes to managing your home budget.

Question: Are you a saver or a spender? Are you trying to "marry" your personality with the way your beloved is?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Monday, August 11

✔ Next Actions and Holidays: How vacation planning apps can teach you to get organized...

We're half way through the Summer and I'm going on a vacation next week so today I'm going to write about "next actions" and holidays... inspired by my step 3 of my "10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course". Let's start with your actual next action: planning your holiday :)

Next Actions and Holidays

The holiday should be an inspiration for work

I go on holidays because I want to relax, recharge my batteries and get inspired... I want to have some rest from everyday routine in order to get back to it later with more motivation and power. To make it possible, the apps that help me have a good time and not forget about anything should make me reflect on the work-related tasks. Here's how they work for me:

Friday, August 8

✔ It's all about passion! - Introduction [part 1]

Note: This is an excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!"

The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

It's all about passion - cover

Introduction: My first passionate startup, Part 1

"People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you're doing. It's totally true. The reason is, because it's so hard and if you don't, any rational person would give up. It's really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don't love it, if you're not having fun doing it, you don't really love it, you're gonna give up.

It happens to most people actually. If you look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society and the ones that didn't, often times the ones that were successful loved what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough. The ones that didn't love it, quit. Because they're sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don't love it. So it's a lot of hard work and it's a lot of worrying constantly and if you don't love it you're gonna fail. So you gotta love it and you gotta have passion."

  • Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple

New college, new passion-seeking adventure...

The fall of 2000 in Germany was chilly, but it wasn’t unbearable. I showed up a few weeks before the new college year started to get to know my new school, new dorm and new city. There I was, a day-long drive away from my home town in Poland, excited to be able to continue my management studies abroad. Just this summer, right before the big move, I finally earned enough money to buy my first laptop computer - a 266 MHz Pentium II Compaq Armada. With my all-new PC, a German dictionary and lots of hopes and dreams, I was ready to start my new adventure and learn new things at this foreign university.

When I settled in my student dormitory and connected my laptop to the local University network, I was literally blown away by the speed of the Internet. Being used to a dial-up modem at home, it was like entering a different league. The applications I immediately downloaded and started using were the Opera browser (the fastest browser on earth at that point), Napster (free music!) and ICQ (to chat with fellow students as well as friends and family back home).

How do I find my passion? My calling? My raison de vivre?

You see, at high school I was miserable because most of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives (they wanted to become doctors, lawyers, teachers... you get the idea) and I had no clue. Even worse - I was a very good student - I basically had grades A at everything - but I wasn't "great" at anything. I was just a very good all-arounder. It may sound cool now, but it wasn't helping me decide what I wanted to do with my life.

I knew I liked computers. My father was servicing IBM PC-compatible machines and I fell in love with these babies. But had no clue how computers would help me find my calling just yet. I also liked learning languages. My high school, although located in Poland, had English as the language of instruction and my second foreign language was German. Computers and languages. And traveling. That's pretty much all I knew about myself after graduating from high-school.

My father wanted me to become an engineer but I simply wasn't sure it was something for me. So I chose to go for Business Management Studies at our local university. It was a popular degree and it offered a very broad education, with lots of different things to learn. It was like high-school, but in college. I didn't lose interest in languages and travel. Within the first two years of my studies I managed to convince one of the German universities to accept me as a "guest student" and in the fall of 2000 I traveled to Germany. Initially for just a semester... but in the end I finished my degree there.

Professors at my new university were brilliant. They had lots of experience in real business. They encouraged us to use the Internet for our research and made us create PowerPoint presentations for the class. I’ve always been a computer geek but never thought of my laptop as a serious work machine until I arrived to that uni.

Languages, computers and travel...

My studies in Germany fostered my interests in languages (German and English), computers (programming and the Internet) and travel (I was far away from my home town after all). And entrepreneurship (I was studying business with some really great professors). It all started to make sense to me. At least a little more than before.

I used to like building things on the computer with code. Now I was more motivated than ever. I got back to coding and learning PHP and MySQL in the evenings. With all the tutorials and code snippets available online it was easy. I reconnected with my best friend Victor from my university in Gdansk (Poland). We chatted a lot over ICQ and started brainstorming the idea of a web-based application that we could offer to people all around the world for a small subscription fee. The idea of building an "online product" and offering it to the world sounded very exciting. I started discovering a very entrepreneurial part of myself.

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: How did you develop your interests? When did you start discovering your passion?

Wednesday, August 6

✔ Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard - Gadget Review - Productive! Show #77

Do you work on the iPad and need to type longer texts sometimes? Watch my short presentation of Logitech Ultrathin keyboard that I have bought recently. It has some new features that will surely help you work effectively and comfortably.

Question: Which is your favorite tablet keyboard?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Monday, August 4

✔ Teleworking in Nozbe - why we all work from home, from anywhere, without any office...

Every year I'm posting pictures and videos of my home office. If you feel nostalgic, feel free to check it out: 2008, 2009, 2010 (video), 2011, 2012 and 2013. Why home office? Well, because my home office is indeed my only real office. Even when running a company of over a dozen of full time people.

Teleworking in Nozbe - why we all work from home, from anywhere, without any office

I always wanted to work from anywhere...

Back in the day when I was in college I was amazed how much I could get done together with my friend. We built a web app together in early 2000s. He was living and studying in Poland and I just moved to study in Germany. There was no Skype back then, no Github, he was on a dial-up connection... it was crazy, yet we built something (you can read more about it in my book "It's all about passion").

I was so amazed by it that I wrote my master thesis on virtual companies and teleworking in 2003... and the main premise of it was:

"work is not a place to go, it's a thing that you do".

Now I'm running a successful company called Nozbe and we all work from home. I'm living my dream... and here's how we're doing it:

Wednesday, July 30

✔ Why I'm working only on my iPad? Quick, pecha-kucha, 6min explanation by yours truly - Productive! Show #76

Why go iPadOnly? Three reasons and three benefits. As you know, I am the co-author of the "#iPadOnly" book where together with Augusto Pinaud I promote a new work-style. In this video I'd like to show you, in the simplest possible way, why, a couple years ago, I decided to switch my Mac Book Air to iPad and make it my number one working tool. See what are the consequences and benefits of that decision.

iPadOnly book http://ipadonlybook.com/

Question: What is stopping you from going #iPadOnly?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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Wednesday, July 16

✔ Productivity gadget review: Sugru - go fix something - Productive! Show #75

One of my friends suggested I tried it out to fix some things around the house. I couldn't believe how great it worked. I've used Sugru for many things now and keep coming with new ideas... it's an amazing product and enables you to be creative, productive and fix things before you decide to throw them away.

Question: Have you ever tried Sugru? What have you fixed with it?

Please post your comments below, thanks!

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