Friday, August 28, 2015

✔ How to build a DIY teleprompter in 5 minutes + tips on using it when recording videos

I'm in the middle of recording a new video series for Nozbe trial and special "back to work" offer for September. Some of the video footage for this series will be me speaking to the camera, just like in my 10-step productivity course so together with my video guy, Marcin, we decided to quickly build a teleprompter so that I didn't have a chance to forget my lines. We built it out of a print paper box, glass from a picture frame, towel and of course an iPad! Here it is:

How to build a DIY teleprompter

For a person like me, who's very passionate and likes to speak a lot, a teleprompter is very important! It helps me calm down nerves, focus on my message and deliver it clearly. But when using a teleprompter the danger is that one starts mindlessly reading what's on the screen and what's even worse: the viewer sees it. It has to be natural, here are a few tips:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

✔ How to recognize the difference between "hate" and "constructive feedback"

As makers of Nozbe which is a mainstream productivity software, we get lots of feedback. Having more than 300,000 users makes us very happy and proud, but we don't always receive happy emails. It's usually me, the founder, who receives the praise and it's our customer support department who gets the blame for customers' problems, software bugs and stuff that doesn't work the way it's supposed to. Luckily most of the time we receive very constructive and great feedback from our users (thank you!). Sometimes however we get not-so-nice emails ("hate") sent by not-so-nice people ("haters" or "trolls"). The thing is, for an untrained eye it's sometimes hard to distinguish between "hate" email and a "constructive feedback" email, so the other day I wrote this on our internal "customer support" wiki:

cloudy feedback

Constructive Feedback

This happens when a person who is an active Nozbe user writes to us that something is not working... or that they would like a feature that we don't have yet, or our competition has it, and they'd love it, too.

If something is not working as they hoped it would, they might get upset. Upset at us, at Nozbe, even at themselves. But they wrote why they were upset. And they wrote to us all that, because they care.

How we respond:

Monday, August 3, 2015

✔ QTbar - my first small global "success" - a launcher toolbar app for Windows 98/Me/XP

This is a story of a small Windows application I made back in college (in 2000-2002). Back then I was a Windows user and I wrote this application to help me launch programs/files/bookmarks faster on my computer. I gave it away for free and I reached a total of around 100,000 downloads of the app, I think. It was my first “major” and “global” success. It wasn’t a business success, but I learned a lot building and distributing it. In this post I’d like to share QTbar’s story. You’ll also find links to download the app, if you dare want to try it. Here goes:

QTbar

QTbar = Quick Tool bar

I didn’t like it, that in Windows getting to files, links and apps was so difficult. Unless you dumped everything on the desktop. That’s why I built this app. So I could quickly visit my favorite web sites, open files on my hard drive and launch my most-used programs. At that time I was really happy with Borland Delphi programming environment. I was using Turbo Pascal which I knew from high school and was applying visual objects from Windows on top of it. It was like building LEGO in a computer. And I love Lego.

As my application was really a tool bar, I called it Quick Tool bar and got the QTbar.com domain. I didn’t know if anyone would use the software, so I decided to give it away for free (freeware) and this is how my adventure started. In this post you’ll learn all about it from the beginning to the end:

Friday, June 19, 2015

☆ What would I do with 1 Billion dollars? [on: KarolZielinski.com]

My friend Karol Zieliński asked me on his blog this question: what would I do with 1 Billion dollars if suddenly got it? Well, I give 5 things I'd do...

Check out these few quotes or read the entire article:

1billion

"...it usually takes time to get used to big money. That’s why many lottery winners end up poorer than before they won..."

"...I guess I’d first divide this sum into smaller chunks, like 100M or 10M or even 1M dollar chunks…"

"...With all of the investments I’d focus on long term growth and profitability, to be able to slowly in the long run multiply this 1Billion fund."

Jump to read the entire article »

Friday, March 20, 2015

★ Begin again: why starting my second company (Remag) is scary, exciting and humbling...

I'm on my way to Wordcamp London to get feedback on Remag from the the best and the brightest in the Wordpress community... And this whole trip is actually a very strange experience for me. It's a mixed bag of scare and excitement and everything in between. Let me explain:

london trip

Why I'm scared

I've been running Nozbe for the last 8 years with amazing success. We have hundreds of thousands of users from all over the world and we're highly profitable with an amazing team which only this year will grow from 20-30 people.

I'm scared to divide my attention between two companies. I'm scared to start something new when the thing I already have has achieved so much success. I'm scared to be a beginner again when I'm already one of the most influential productivity people out there. I'm scared to fail. I'm scared this new venture is ahead of its time and nobody will get it... I'm really really scared.

Why I'm excited

I'm starting something new! I will get to know a totally different world of digital publishing and not productivity. I'm going to Wordcamp London where I know no one. Nobody. It's a completely new world for me. It's very exciting.

I'll hopefully get a chance to get my very first customers again. Very first people who will believe in my vision of the future of digital mobile publishing. First folks who'll tell me my solution sucks. Or rocks. Or is so-so. And if we get traction like I hope we will I'll have an exciting time building a second company from the ground up.

Why I'm humbled

I'm a beginner again. My position in the new industry is non-existent. I know nobody. I am suddenly nobody. I'm just another guy with a startup which is trying to gain traction. I need to suck up my ego and start from square one. Like I haven't done in the last 8 years.

But I'm going to do it. Because I believe so much in the product and in my team that I can't just shelve it all because I'm scared to begin again.

Time to embrace the new beginning!

Question: Have you had a chance to begin something new lately?

Sent from my iPhone 6 Plus

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

✔ Nozbe celebrates 8 years in business! Going stronger than ever!

Last Sunday, February 1, my company: Nozbe celebrated 8 years of being in business. Wow. This is like 80 years in the "before Internet" era... A web-based app I launched back in 2007 (the year of the first iPhone) is now a thriving business with apps for all the major platforms... and a team of 19 and growing... and 2015 is going to be our best year ever!

Nozbe is Gr8

In 2014 we launched Nozbe 2.0 and trial accounts!

As I described in my last year's post, we were supposed to launch Nozbe 2.0 in Spring of 2014... well it took us a lot more time, we launched in the Fall of 2014 together with new Nozbe PRO plan. Both were a gamble for our company... here's why:

Monday, September 22, 2014

✔ Rolling the dice while winning volleyball world championships

Yesterday I was watching the finals of volleyball world championships and my team won! Poland beat Brazil in an amazing 3:1 game! It was amazing! Now, watching the game and observing how the players handled the pressure of a high stakes game like that reminded me of a business analogy of rolling a dice in a board game... Here's what I learned:

Rolling the dice while winning volleyball world championships

Every dice roll is a new beginning

I read somewhere that we believe too much in the fact that "past performance is an indicator of future success"... And this can be exemplified perfectly in a dice roll:

Every time you roll a dice, you can get any number between 1-6. Any number. The number you got before doesn't influence the number you will get now. You got 6 before? Doesn't mean you will or won't get it now. The 6 of the past doesn't influence the number of now. How could it? Every dice roll is new. The probability of getting any number between 1-6 is the same. Each time...

What does it have to do with volleyball and business? Everything:

Friday, September 19, 2014

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 2 - Passion 1: Money [part 3]

Note: This is a 7th 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 2 (part 3) - Passion 1: Money

It's all about passion - chapt 2_3

Money drives passion in a healthy way

When you love your product and your customers share the love by sharing with you their hard-earned cash, it steams up passion from both sides. You're even more passionate about doing what you do as you get this confirmation in something tangible also known as "money".

I've found that to be very true in my case. The more I earn with what I do the more motivated I am to make my business even better, more reliable and strong. Money, when approached wisely is an enormous motivator that helps you drive your passion forward and you share it with your customers along the way.

Earning money is also a skill - learn it

Asking for money is not easy. Designing a product in a way it entices the people to pay you and learning the pricing the hard way (by overcharging or under-charging) is not as straightforward as it seems.

I've met many startup founders who gave up way to easily because they didn't see the affirmation of their work in a form of healthy income coming in because it doesn't "just come" easily.

Friday, September 12, 2014

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 2 - Passion 1: Money [part 2]

Note: This is a 6th 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 2 (part 2) - Passion 1: Money

It's all about passion - chapt 2_2

When you're only motivated by money - you will lose

Everything was going as I had planned. Then suddenly one competitor showed up. And another. And one more... and my unique "business opportunity" space started getting crowded.

And these other guys were building a better product than mine! And with more features! Better design, offer, whatever the bottom line was, I started to lose ground.

The thing is, if you're only motivated by the money, you're going to lose interest quickly. This is what happened to me. I started giving up. It was supposed to be an easy business! I was supposed to be rich and famous! What gives?

Friday, September 5, 2014

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 2 - Passion 1: Money [Part 1]

Note: This is a 5th 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 2 (part 1) - Passion 1: Money

It's all about passion - chapter 2.1

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game." - Donald Trump, investor, author of "The Art of the Deal"

Money makes the world go around... kind of.

Money rules the world we live in right now. No doubt about that. But it's not what it's all about. Money is just a means to an end - a happy, fulfilled life.

It sounds nice in definition but the media want us to believe otherwise. In the consumerist world we live in, it's all about the money - it gives you power, cars, houses... the media wants us to believe we can buy ourselves a way into happiness.

The same applies to the startup world. Young, aspiring entrepreneurs are reading high-profile tech blogs where they learn about other young guys cashing it big time with huge company valuations, amazingly big venture capital rounds and fantastic financing opportunities where millions of dollars are just laying around there to be picked up.

These big sums of money only make young startup founders blind. They have very often never even seen more than a few thousand of dollars at a time, yet they seem to subconsciously redirect their motivation towards "getting rich quick... or die trying" (as the rap star 50cent would say).

I was like this when I graduated from college. I wanted to make it big for fame and fortune. And I failed several times to finally understand that to be passionate about money you need to approach it from a totally different angle.

Friday, August 29, 2014

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 1 - 7 types of passion [Part 2]

Note: This is a 4th 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, part 2

It's all about passion - chapter 1.2

There are several types of passion

Passion shows up in many shapes and forms and you just don't get to be passionate about one thing or one aspect of your company. There are many types of passion and over here I'd like to comment on the ones I have discovered and that have played the major role in my success.

Ready? Let's dive into this and hopefully inspire you to build your passionate startup.

Friday, August 22, 2014

✔ It's all about passion! - Chapter 1 - 7 types of passion [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".

Monday, January 27, 2014

✔ 5 things I love about my work and why it gets me excited every day

It's really hard for me to talk about work these days. We're in the middle of crisis, people get downsized, they're struggling to find jobs... and yet when they talk to me about my work they find me excited, passionate and pumped up. When they say "my day gets so long", I say "my day is too short"... and they can't believe that I really love my work. It's even more than that:

5 things I love about my work and why it gets me excited every day

Steve Jobs in his commencement address at Stanford explained how it was important to find "what you love doing" and if you didn't find it, he urged people listening to him not to give up, not to settle, but keep looking. When I finished my business degree I knew I love computers and the Internet but I still wasn't sure what I'd be doing with my life... so I kept searching, started my company and finally built Nozbe and now not only do I love my work, there are 5 things I love about it:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

✔ I'm officially a decade-long entrepreneur and loving it!

Silently last month, I had an opportunity to celebrate my 10th anniversary as an entrepreneur. On December 15, 2003 I registered my company "apivision.com" and was officially in business. I was kinda-self employed before, as I was trying to build, hack and sell things while studying at the university, but in 2003 right after my graduation I decided to officially open up my one-man-shop business. In this post I'll share with you a few lessons I learned and why I love every minute of it and why I still believe passion is what matters to me the most.

I'm officially a decade-long entrepreneur and I'm loving it!

As I already posted on my blog, my parents inspired me to start a company. They both are very entrepreneurial and seeing them working on their own in the post-communist Poland and seeing their freedom, ups, downs and everything surrounding entrepreneurship I also wanted to be like them.

I studied business and graduated from business school and also learned to speak several foreign languages - folks like me would start sending out CVs after graduation to the biggest companies they knew... and I decided not to. I opened up my own "Internet company" and as Michael Hyatt likes to put it, "failed my way to a success". Here's what I learned:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

✔ Luck is what ultimately matters... but you can help it!

I read the book "the art of thinking clearly" and it got me confused - it said that luck is what really matters. The author quoted that among business leaders luck is the main indicator of their success. Not their skills or knowledge. I was confused... was I just plain lucky to have started Nozbe?

Luck is what ultimately matters... but you can help it!

If you think about it, maybe I was. When I was building Nozbe nobody knew about it. I had no platform, no following. I was just reading GTD and productivity blogs and once I launched Nozbe I just commented on one thread on "What's the next action" blog - I simply joined a discussion about productivity apps. Well, I was lucky, the late Marc Orchant was reading these comments, signed up for my tool and wrote about Nozbe on ZDnet. Then other bloggers picked it up and suddenly Lifehacker, 43Folders, The Net Worker Daily and other blogs started writing about my new project. I really was lucky, right? Well...