Friday, June 1, 2012

143 pieces of clothing

The older I am the more I understand that it really does pay to buy less, but purchase only the quality stuff you really like. And use it. Don't save it for later. Use it now, today, as often as you can and enjoy it. That's why I was so attracted by the notion of "Minimalism" and one of my blog posts: "Minimalism feels fantastic" is still one of the most popular on my blog. Recently, I've taken a big step in my "minimalistic" journey and drastically shrunk my wardrobe to only 143 pieces of clothing. Here's how (and why):

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It's not about the number, it's about counting

When I was cleaning up my home office I realized that making a spreadsheet with all the gadgets, cables and office appliances I own might look crazy, but it's not that stupid. I realized how many of these pieces of equipment I owned and never used. How tempted I was upon each visit to the Electronics store to buy some new shiny toy. When I made the list, I got down to 100 things in my home office and I was happy. It wasn't about the number but about really understanding what I need and what I use... and what really makes me productive when I work.

After my home office, I took care of my closet - several times

Yes, reducing pieces of clothing took me several months and several tries but eventually I got there. When I read that Leo Babauta had a total of 50 things I thought he was crazy but again, it's not about the number, it's about awareness and about enjoying the stuff you own.

Take 1 - from ~400 to 180

I started half a year ago. Fired up my spreadsheet and started counting what I owned. My wife thought I was crazy. But I kept pushing... and I realized I had way too many things:

  • I had 20+ elegant shirts... and I work from home! I only need 3-4 for my business trips... and that's a lot. I chose the best (non-iron) and gave away the rest.
  • I had many shirts/pullovers/sweaters that were my favorite... like 10 years ago... and now are old and worn out and my wife doesn't allow me to wear them anyway...
  • I had many torn/stained/broken pieces of clothing I thought I'd fix at some point... crazy me.
  • I had many pieces of clothing I seriously didn't like and would never wear again...

And most of all, I realized there were things missing in my wardrobe - I had 400+ things and I had real "holes" in my wardrobe (like only one "good looking" pair of jeans... or lacking shirts in appropriate colors)

Anyway, got to less than a half of the stuff I had. Proud and happy. Next time I went shopping with my wife I knew exactly what I was missing.

Take 2 - from ~200 to 143 things

The second time around the reduction wasn't as spectacular as in take 1 but after half a year with my wardrobe I learned what I enjoyed wearing, what I needed more of and what I needed less of. My total count grew to almost 200 in half a year (as I was buying more stuff I really enjoyed) and I could take the final plunge and be more brutal about reducing my wardrobe.

The total count includes 20+ polo shirts (I love them!), 20+ pairs of socks, 20+ pieces of underwear... and all the shirts, trousers, etc. I'll ever need. For now, 143 is my number. Let's see how it goes in half a year - I'll revise my setup again then, but so far so good.

What counting my clothing did to me?

In a nutshell, it made me conscious of what I have, what I like to wear and of what I do/don't need to buy anymore of. It made me happy... and made it possible for me to shrink all of my clothes into three drawers and one small wardrobe.

Every day now I'm wearing my favorite clothes. Isn't that great?

Did you ever try to shrink down your wardrobe? Did you ever count your pieces of clothing? If so, what's your number?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seven years married to my best friend

Yesterday (Monday) exactly seven years ago me and my wife said "yes" and commenced our journey together through life as husband and wife. Suffice to say, we still love each other and currently we are celebrating our anniversary traveling only two of us (we left our 3-year old daughter with my parents). As every young couple we've had our ups and downs but I think that over the years what was the key to our successful (so far!) relationship was this: My wife is my best friend.

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When Harry met Sally

This is our favorite movie as it's quite similar to our story in some sense... We met in high-school and instantly became very good friends. We both liked dancing, partying and going to the movies. We had many things in common. Yet we never "clicked" romantically. As we grew older our friendship matured. I had my share of relationships with other girls, my wife with other guys, we'd consult one another and help each other in trying times. All as friends. Even though I considered my friend "sexy" I didn't want to spoil this perfect friendship. We both didn't want that... but we eventually couldn't help it. We were falling in love and finally we stopped being just friends. We've known each other a little over 10 years when we got married. Crazy, huh?

A key to successful marriage is Friendship

In one of his blog posts Michael Hyatt writes the very same thing and he has more than 30 years of marriage to confirm that, but as we live in our relationship 7 years now and have friends who are couples (married and not... and not anymore) we have also noticed that love and sex are great (and they really are!), but at the end of the day, it's the friendship that helps you stay together every single day.

The worst that can happen is that you spend an evening with the person you like most

When my wife was doing an internship in an European Agency we would party a lot with our friends who were also interns and most of them were singles. They had to go out as much as they could... as their alternative was a lonely apartment. We partied a lot, but when we didn't feel like it, we'd always enjoy a quiet evening, because either way we were spending it with a person we liked the most anyway. And this is what counts.

Friends and buddies change... your significant other does not

Over the years I've had many good buddies, great friends and fantastic pals... but times changed, we moved, they moved, we keep in touch but priorities also change. My wife is still with me and she's still my best friend. And I do hope she's here to stay :-)

Learn to be friends if you're not yet...

We've seen couples base their relationships on different things than friendship... and it works OK for them short-term, but with years the fact that they don't share interests together and just plainly don't spend "fun" time together pays its dues. They start living separate lives. And I don't think it's ever too late to become a friend (and hopefully the best friend) of your significant other.

"She wants what's best for me and I want what's best for her"

These words aren't mine. My father (36 years married to my mother) said this to me before my wedding day when I asked him about his secret to a long, lasting and loving marriage. Everyone who knows my parents knows they live by this rule to this day. And they are best friends, too - even though they got married one year after they first met.

I didn't write this post to brag. I don't know what the future holds and I'm happy with me and my wife (and my daughter) and our small milestone today. I'm just happy that I'm married to my "sexy" best friend :-)

What's your key to a successful relationship?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thoughts on piracy, greed and entitlement

Recent posts by MG Siegler on piracy and an additional explanation later, as well as Oatmeal's cartoon made me think about piracy and my attitude towards it. In a nutshell - piracy is bad but the content providers are wrong to build walls in front of us. I'm mostly with MG here.
Game-thrones
Old walls don't work anymore

I live in Europe so we're used to receive all the content way later than our American friends. It was OK in the 80s but now with broadband internet it's really not a big deal to get the content anytime you want. The old geo-wall doesn't work anymore. The big media companies still don't get it... and instead of providing content for us, they keep on maintaining the walls and try to punish us for piracy by saying it's the same as stealing.

What's the root of piracy? The fact that you cannot get the content legally but you can get it easily from other sources.

Apple understood it - when Napster failed the big content providers started fighting Kazaa and other torrent-related networks instead of building their business around Napster-like model. Apple built iTunes Store and they quickly became dominant in the market.

The key of Apple's success is that you can get content at a click of the mouse. That's why I love my AppleTV so much :-)

AppleTV rescued me from pirating movies

My wife is an IP lawyer and she never agreed on us pirating movies... but she did want to watch the movies with me... and renting movies from the rental shops took so much time... every time... so when we bought the AppleTV we finally got what we wanted - an easy and affordable way of streaming movies legally by renting them from Apple directly. No more driving to the rental shop, just "what do you want to watch today?" and with a few clicks streaming it to our LCD screen. Sweet.

Even Apple didn't get it totally right...

... when they removed TV-Shows rentals. With $0.99 per episode, we were exploring different shows and watching them directly through AppleTV. For less than one buck it was a no-brainter. When they removed this option, we just settled on one show (we bought a season pass) and we stopped watching more shows. It was stupid on Apple's part to remove it. What we did is we started using my proxy server in the US (I'm having one as most of my business is done in the US) for streaming directly from Hulu... for free. Sorry Apple. I don't want to own shows, I want to watch them and that's it. Just like I don't want to own movies.

Although I'm legally watching movies, I still need to use tricks

Like I have my American iTunes account although I don't live in the US that I need to fill up with prepaid cards. Like I'm watching Hulu though and American Proxy server... The geo-wall is still there and I need to get over it anyway. Even though I'm paying. I even wanted to pay for Hulu Plus but they won't accept my non-american credit card. Need to get one upon my next visit to the US.

You see what's happening here? I still need to use tricks... to actually legally pay for content! Isn't that crazy? Well, many of my friends who still pirate movies and shows think I'm crazy...

The point is - when you build walls and don't let us pay - you do force us to pirate or find ways...

This is 21st century. We have access to the internet, you know? We even have the money to spend, you know? It's got nothing to do with entitlement or bad will. It's got to do with new ways of consuming content. We have broadband internet, iPads and iPhones... and we want to consume the content through these devices and pay for it... but maintaining a status-quo by the old media companies is stupid... and I'm hoping something very soon will disrupt them heavily. Building walls is not sustainable.

Guys, just use the energy to serve your growing number of potential customers and not to build and maintain the walls... the walls will fall, sooner than you might think. MG's post is a great example of it.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

That which does not kill us makes us stronger

Having an amazing CTO helps :-) (Thanks Tomasz!) When this happened I told him that instead of trying to repair the broken platform, we should migrate to the new one right away and see how complicated this is. My optimism helped here, too. My CTO gave up and we both started digging deep. Asked a couple of friends for help explaining us some things, read tons of documentation and built the thing. We wanted to migrate to a new platform and thought it'd be a long project... and the situation forced us to do this now. And quickly.

The upside? The app is faster, works with Lion's full-screen mode, keyboard shortcuts work better... many improvements all around - and this all in two days of hard work we were forced to do. What we thought was a big problem turned to a gain for us and for the Nozbe users. You'll see the app next week - you'll love it :-)

When we lost a person from our team... we got 4 new ones :-)

In the beginning of this year one of our developers working on a key project decided to move on. I can't force anyone to stay, but I felt really bad as the timing was just not right. Our small engineering team got even smaller... and we had really ambitious plans for 2012. Again, talked to my CTO about this situation and we decided to go for an unorthodox method of hiring and try to get a lot more developers at a time and grow our team substantially. We dedicated two weeks and some travels to this and to cut the long story short, did an amazing team-building event and got 4 new talented developers in the process. We wouldn't have done it if it wasn't for the blow of one developer leaving.

When things go bad - they make you rethink your situation and go for radical measures.

You're forced to think outside of the box. To shift, change attitude and get outside of your comfort zone and do something different. Actually, come to think about it, drawbacks should be treated as indicators that you're doing something well, but should fix the direction you're going. Instead of asking: "Why does it always happen to me?" we should be saying: "Well, this didn't work well, what does it mean? What should I do next to change course and do something even better? Maybe I wasn't aiming high enough?"

It reminds me of Seth Godin - who when talking with me said that his lizard brain is like an indicator... the same I think applies to drawbacks.

Let me finish this one with an optimistic song by Kelly Clarkson with footage from my favorite show lately, Glee:


I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Giving benefit of a doubt to everyone!

A definition of "giving a benefit of a doubt to someone" I found somewhere on the Internet is "to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either" - which basically means - if someone you know does something strange/wrong, you assume he either made a mistake or had good intentions... instead of flat out thinking he's a bad person.

Why am I writing about this? Because I believe we should give benefit of a doubt to everyone!
Everyone-is-good
Benefit of a doubt in the family (or among friends)

We are used to giving benefit of a doubt to people closest to us. The ones who we know very well. Because, well, we know for a fact they are good people. And even more - we know they like/love us so they wouldn't do anything against us, right? Exactly.

Assume everyone is good, because well... almost everyone is.

I prefer to assume everyone is good. I say we give the benefit of a doubt to everyone as they (you) all deserve it. When you do that, the life and people seem just better and the positive thinking about others transmits your positive attitude to them. And most of the people are really good.

Don't let exceptions spoil your life

Somewhere I read a great business advice: "because one customer screws you over, don't make the life of the rest of your customers miserable". And an example quoted there was really cool: "When you run a restaurant with restrooms and someone pees on the floor in the restroom, clean it up and don't put a sign saying: NO PEEING ON THE FLOOR - it will make most of your customers, who don't have a habit of peeing on the floor uneasy and won't prevent you from having another guy do this sometime in the future."

This applies to business as well as life

Very often when we design something for the customers in Nozbe (and a great example is our 60-day money back guarantee) I get questions from my team: "what if someone tries to cheat us?" I always have the same answer: "We'll know that anyway. We'll ask them to stop. And we'll move on. Most of our customers will not cheat us and they'll appreciate what we've done. And even if the ones who cheated got away with something extra, we have at least a good deed on our account :-)"

It's not about being naive. We do have to stay alert and react accordingly when someone does something bad, but let's not deal with this for too long - most of the people we deal with do good things. And we thank them for that!

Wouldn't the world be better if we gave everyone the benefit of a doubt?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I love my users, readers and followers

Today is the Valentine's Day and it might be a cheesy day for some (and a great day for the florists) but I still like it because it's a very optimistic day - it's all about love. It also reminds me that not only I love my wife and my baby girl and my family and my close friends... but I really love you all guys. It's a privilege to be able to write to you, to be able to interact with you, to learn from you and to serve you. And it's amazing we can connect on so many levels thanks to the power of the Internet.

Yesterday I posted how proud I was for the last 5 years of helping thousands upon thousands of people get things done and the truth of the matter is that I'm loving this job not only for running a successful software business but mostly for being able to interact with all of you. Keep up the good work - you are the ones getting stuff done and you are great. And I'm humbled to be able to interact with you and hope you'll keep on having me for the next years going forward.

Love you all. Happy Valentine's Day!


I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stop at red light

We are rushing too much. I've been traveling to many places in the world and in almost every city people are rushing like there is no tomorrow. The run to work, shopping, everywhere...

Red-light

Let's start with traffic lights...

There is a device present at nearly every corner of nearly every street and it is called: "traffic lights". The purpose of this device is to tell you when you're allowed to cross the street and when you are not. The basic usage: green light = "walk", red light = "don't walk". In theory, this is simple.

A novel idea: What if we paid attention to traffic lights?

The bigger the city the more people ignore traffic lights. And it's not just because they're rushing so much, it's because they see them as a stupid device that is not allowing them to cross the street when there's obviously no car coming their way. Until there is one, that is.

What if cars started ignoring the traffic lights?

Well, I don't have to ask myself this question at all - in the city I live now most of the small crossroads have traffic lights but the cars ignore them. They just drive through when there is no pedestrian on the street. Until there is one, that is.

This blog post is NOT about traffic lights at all.

I didn't write it to lecture you on traffic safety. I didn't post it because I have a three-year-old and I want to teach her how to cross the street properly. I just wanted to ask - why do we rush so much?

Stop at the red light and breathe.

Just stop. Look around. Pay attention to what's around you - breathe. I got sucked into this, too. I noticed it became my habit of just crossing the street "on red" even if I wasn't running late or anything. So I decided to stop. To see what's around me, to appreciate the world and enjoy the busy hour in the city. We run and rush so much we stop noticing the world around us and risk being killed by a car.

Stop. Breathe. Take notice. Let the red light remind you that there's no need to rush - you'll make it. You'll be fine.

And what do you think?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The importance of counting things

I used to hate statistics in college but now in my work counting things and drawing stats is really important. Although I'm not an accountant, as a company owner I still need to keep track of revenue, costs, page views, signups and other numbers. In my professional life I'm counting all the time because based on these numbers I'm making decisions.
Counting
When scheduling workload for my team, we're counting hours it'd take to build a piece of software, days it would take to ship a new version of an app... we count things to keep our feet on the ground and know when stuff can be delivered to the users.

I didn't count things at home though.

We're not used to counting anything at home apart from our home budget. But that's it. I didn't realize I needed to count anything at home until I read on Leo's blog about his 50 things challenge.

OK, the concept of owning 50 things sounded to me a little extreme but when Leo actually admitted that it's just a tool to ask questions I started asking them... and counting.

Counting gadgets in my home office. Results:

1) Empty, clean space

I fired up a Spreadsheet and started counting gadgets and other stuff in my home office. I found out I had close to 200 things and only 120 of them I really needed (including 30 business books). I threw away the ones I didn't need anymore to a box (and later gave a way to people who needed them) or trashed worthless ones. Suddenly my home office was clean and spacious.

2) Urge to buy gadgets... no more

The second benefit came later - because I counted everything I had in my home office, I knew exactly WHAT I had. So when my wife went with me to an Electronics Store I didn't feel the desire to stroll around computer section to buy something new because I knew what I had and I knew I didn't need anything more. Liberating.

After my initial success with my home office I went ahead to count my clothes.

Well, I realized I had around 500 pieces of clothing and among these some pretty worn out ones I'd never ever wear. Sometimes I had 5 pieces of the same type of clothing when I really needed only one or two. And I had close to 20 elegant shirts. And I don't go to an office daily (I work from home) so I need only 3-5 shirts for my business trips. I gave away the rest to my brother who does go to office every day and he's the same size as I am.

Suffice to say I got rid of half of my wardrobe. Most of my clothes went to the poor and the really worn out ones went to trash. And then I went shopping. Shopping? That's correct. By counting and going through my things I realized my wardrobe was missing a few pieces of clothing I'd love to wear like a good pair of jeans for example. And I bought myself a great pair.

When you count things - you realize what's missing and what has to go out.

Now I know I will not buy myself a new pair of jeans. I bought the one that was missing and that's it. However because I knew what I needed I could buy myself a great pair and I'm happy wearing it. And I will not buy anything else because again, I know what I have. I didn't know that before.

Count things and live a happy life

No, you don't have to go to the extreme like Leo and go down to 50 things. But you should count your things nonetheless. This helps you realize what you have, what you need and what you can throw away. This will make you think twice before buying anything more and will teach you to buy good quality things that you'll actually enjoy using or wearing.

Did you try to count your things? What did you discover? How many pieces of clothing are you actually wearing?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why you should reconcile with old friends

It's after Christmas and we're all in a happy mood right now (hopefully) and we're even more hopeful for the upcoming new year. It's time for New Year's Resolutions (I call them "policies" and I wrote how to get them done earlier) and connecting with people we know and love... and reconciling with old friends. Yes, let's talk about that as it's really, truly important.
Friends
I got into nasty fights with very good friends several times in my life

Yes, I'm not proud of that. I'm a very optimistic and happy person but I'm also sometimes quite explosive and if I feel someone is doing something wrong against me, things can get messy. Usually the fights were about girls (when I was at school and in college) and money or ego (when I started my business). Usually I lost these friends and we never talked to each other again... until we did.

How did we talk again? Well, I had to go through these three steps:

1. Admit you were wrong as well

Even though that at the moment of the fight I was sure I was right... over time when analyzing the situation from a third perspective I realized the mistake was on both sides and I was also to blame. Yes, I realized I was with fault, too. If a major fight with your friend happens to you, too - you will realize this as well - it's virtually impossible that the fault lies only on one side. It never does... and move on to the step 2:

2. Be humble and apologize to yourself first

Next step is to apologize to yourself you were wrong. I realized I was stupid to throw away a valuable friendship because of thinking a person I trusted was a jerk and I wasn't... and the truth is we both were jerks and we both should've known better. Apologize to yourself for your pride and thinking you were right and the other side was wrong. Realize your mistake and move on to the final step:

3. Reach out and do it soon. Don't wait years...

Call the other person as soon as you've completed the step 2. Unfortunately for me I waited quite a while for some of my friends. In one case it took me about 4 years to call my ex friend. He didn't pick it up. I swallowed my pride again and recorded on his voicemail and said I was sorry, I respected him and I was hoping he'd forgive me for our fight. He called me back happy that I reached out. We laughed over our fight years back and met for a beer soon. Now we're great friends and we hang out on a regular basis. We trust each other again and hopefully we will fight again, but not with such consequences. Now we know better.

The other time my other friend reached out first. I swallowed my pride again and was happy he did. We're good friends again. So great.

That's it. Follow the 3-step formula. Don't hold your grudge and reconcile with your friends.

Think again. They were your friends before for a reason. Now it's the perfect time for a New Year's Resolution: reconcile with old friends and start 2012 with a great happiness boost of having old friends back as new ones again. Good luck!

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Final Act of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, a person I never got to know personally but who's been my mentor, inspiration and product guru, died yesterday night at the age of 56. So early, so young… yet it all seems he's comeback to Apple has been all a great plan until his very death. He's known for planning everything carefully. Aware of the fact that the cancer is winning, he even seemed to have planned his death and timed it perfectly. I think it takes a great courage to plan a departure like Steve.
Steve

Steve's Last Year at Apple

He was struggling with cancer since 2004 but every battle until now he won. And when he did, he was coming again and introducing yet another ground-braking innovation.

This time he knew it was over and he planned his last year at Apple in an amazing way:

Step 1. Medical Leave

In January he took the medical leave to let the company be run by Tim Cook and became a mentor to the whole company while letting them run about their business to show to everyone (and prove to himself) that Apple can be run without him.

Step 2. The iPad 2

He took the stage to show off the second iPad while nailing to the ground all the would-be competitors. He did it personally to make a statement that "people don't really want tablets - they want iPads".

Step 3. The most-valuable company

He didn't plan this although it "just" happened. Apple became the most valuable company in the world thanks to all he's done in the past years. Perfect to commemorate his last year alive.

Step 4. WWDC and the iCloud that "just works"

Despite being really sick, he took the stage to show off his latest invention - the iCloud. If you look at the keynote carefully, when you see him say hi, he looks really sick… but when he comes back on the stage for the second time, he's a different person. He's so excited about the iCloud that he almost jumps on the stage. You can see he's a product guy and he's totally in love with this new thing that will change the way we work… yet again. He repeats several time how the iCloud "just works"… as this is what Steve was all about… about stuff "just working".

Step 5. The Apple Mothership in Cupertino

Just after the Apple event, with the same eagerness and spirit Steve Jobs appeared in front of the Cupertino City Council to show them the project he's been working on lately - new Apple Headquarters in Cupertino that will be nothing like any other office building in the world. You could see he was excited and needed to present this one personally.

Like all great artist and masters, Steve knew he wouldn't be able to see it built. He knew he's not destined to work there but wanted to pass on his dream to a younger generation of Apple employees and enthusiasts. It reminds me of Antonio Gaudi designing the Sagrada Familia - a work of art greater than himself - Gaudi knew it'd take 130 years to build it. He didn't care. He went on with it knowing he'll not see it built entirely. Ever. Steve was a grand artist the same way.

Step 6. Resignation as the CEO

At his deathbed he finally decided to resign from the role of CEO while he was still alive. He wanted to make sure the shock at Apple wouldn't be that powerful. He wanted to see and witness this transition made official. Some say he was at Apple on the day he resigned to make sure personally everything went according to the plan. I'm sure it's true. It's Steve. And we're talking about a dying man here.

The additional benefit of resigning was being able to witness how people reacted to it. He received so many letters of praise, articles in press and so much attention and he still could enjoy it while spending his last days on Earth. I'm sure he enjoyed it a lot and hope it sweetened the imminent d-day at least a little.

Step 7. Apple iPhone event

The first event after his medical leave that he didn't attend. It was Tim Cook's show with other executives participating and helping out. Steve could enjoy how his spirit and soul lives on at Apple and how these guys can pull a great show and assure everyone that Apple will do just fine. Again, I'm sure he enjoyed watching it happen. His disciples were doing a great job. Now the Jedi master himself could finally move on.

Final Step: Death

Only two days after the event Steve passed away. His job was done. Apple is in good hands. His soul and spirit will live on. The death seems to be perfectly timed with everything that happened this past year. He will be missed. While I believe in the Afterlife, I don't know what Steve believes in, but I'm sure he's achieved his Nirvana.

One more thing: Steve's Biography

Even this time Steve didn't disappoint. His "one more thing" at an Apple even was always a moment everyone's been waiting for. This time is no different. His first official and authorized biography will hit the shelves this November - one month after his death. I'm getting at least one copy. I've read all of the other Steve's biographies and can't wait to read this one and pay tribute to Steve.

Steve is a real perfectionist

He proved again that even his death can be planned perfectly and he knew how to execute this plan. I can't even imagine how much courage it takes to come to terms with the imminent death and plan your last year alive. Yet he's done it and proved again there's no one like him.

Steve, God bless, may your soul rest in peace. I know it will.

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech


I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rant no more

Rant or ranting is a way of talking about something in a bad way, in an angry mood. Ranting usually happens when you're not happy about something and you're angry about it (bad customer support experience, feeling cheated, feeling neglected, hurt ego... etc.) and when you're a blogger there is a tendency to among us to just blog about it and let the energy go.... and even see if maybe someone will cheer us in our rant or rant with us. After all, misery loves company... right? No. It's time to stop. I will not rant on this blog again. Ever. And you shouldn't rant on yours too. Here's why:
Rant-no-more
If you rant, you keep up and re-live your negative energy

Negative energy is very… negative. And should be quickly exchanged for a positive one. Whenever someone shouts at me or in any other way does something bad to me, I try to shift and think about something good that recently happened to me and I actually try to sympathize with the guy and feel sorry for them, thinking about my wonderful life and how this incident doesn't matter.

The negative incident doesn't really matter

When you rant, you re-live the incident and give it a bigger significance than it deserves. Small incidents that make you angry really don't matter and when you compare them to your happiness, your family, your love, your life… they are insignificant. Really. They don't matter.

When you put it "out there"… it's there forever

Back in 2009 I wasn't quite happy with how one of the startup hubs (Seedcamp) worked and wrote a rant about it. It's been one of my most successful posts ever, but in a bad way. It stirred a good discussion (check the comments there) but the blog post is now irrelevant as I don't really feel the way I felt then anymore and I might have hurt folks at Seedcamp in some way without real merit. I shouldn't have written that rant.

Instead of being critical, pro-actively focus on solutions

Instead of ranting you should focus your energy on suggestions how to solve a problem you just saw. Get rid of the bad energy and stimulate your brain cells to come up with a solution to a problem and ask your community for advice. Focus on the good and not on the bad. Ranting is focusing on the bad. And it's bad.

If you really need to rant, write it but don't post it.

If it's the only way for you to get rid of the negative energy, just write about it, save it somewhere in your computer and schedule it for deletion. Don't post it online and pass the negative energy on to others. Don't re-read it again. Just write it, save it and delete without reading it again. Be brave.

I will rant here no more

There, I've said it - on this blog I'm introducing a strict "rant no more" policy and will not rant about anything. I will seek improvements and solutions but I will not focus on the bad nor describe it nor explain it. I will focus on the good. We're here to make the world a better place. Ranting makes us even more miserable. We don't need that.

Do you tend to rant? How do you deal with with these incidents that make you angry?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day - a reason to celebrate love for work

Today is Labor Day in the United States and though I'm not American, most of the people I interact nowadays are either American or Japanese so their holidays affect me as well. And since today is the day of labor in the USA, I thought to write more about work on my blog today. Enhancing a little the last paragraphs of my last week's post.
Love-work
Cursing at my work taught me a great deal about choosing my work...

When I was in college I was already working as a freelancer building web sites for customers and doing Internet Marketing for them. I loved it... well almost. I loved many aspects of it but they were some things that I hated about this work.

Especially when I had to build something I didn't like because my customer said so. I was looking at the web site I was building and as it was a really big project it took me weeks to build it… but I hated it. I literally spent my day cursing at the web site… and as I was a poor student and I needed the money (and the project was worth a lot of money to me) I kept building it… and cursing. When I finally submitted the work and took my money I felt relieved… and looking at the lump of cash in my hand I was about to throw it away. I was disgusted by it. It was my biggest project to date and was supposed to be my pride… but I hated it.

I swallowed the pill and understood on that day that no money is worth doing a work you hate. I knew on that day that I'd rather work for less money but on something I'd love.

Choosing the work I love

When I finished college I decided to set up my own company which I'm running to this day (apivision.com) and back then it was an Internet consultancy for e-commerce and Internet Marketing.

Many people tried to persuade me to take the job in a big corporation but I was convinced I'd do better on my own, choosing the work I love. Don't get me wrong, many people love their corporate jobs. I just thought it wasn't for me. Later throughout my career as an entrepreneur I had many successes and failures. Sometimes I was hardly earning anything and other times I was earning quite a lot.

Yet, what never happened again was choosing the work based not the paycheck alone. I didn't care about the money. OK, I cared enough in order not starve to death, but I didn't care to get rich quickly.

Investing in yourself by learning something new

I was choosing my gigs based on what they could teach me. I'd rather work on a new type of web site or in a different kind of industry, just to learn new things. I thought of it as a way to invest in my education. Accepting even a lower deal but for the sake of learning new stuff, I was investing in my own education and seeking what I truly loved doing and what really made me happy. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't privileged or rich to begin with. My parents gave me great education but after college I started at zero. Rejecting some well-paid gigs just because they weren't interesting hit my financials every time.

It takes time to figure out what you love doing

I was envious of my friends in high-school who already knew they were going to be teachers, lawyers, doctors… and I had no clue what to do with my life. When I graduated from the University I still was kind of clueless. I knew something but it was still not enough… I knew I loved the Internet, Computers and Business but was still searching for the answer. I got it when I found my passion for productivity (and building things) with Nozbe and the Productive! Magazine.

Please please please - keep searching for love, not paycheck!

Recently I talked to a friend who said he was happy to have gotten a good job with quite a good pay. I asked him if he was excited about the kind of work he'd be doing and he was like "well, it's going to be fine". When I looked at his career I saw a similar pattern each time. He was always aiming at getting the best paycheck possible. This was his main rationale, not love. When I told him once what I thought about it he'd reply: "Michael, it's a recession right now, I get it that you have your own company and you love what you do but the rest of us need to be happy with what we can get".

Maybe it's true. Maybe I'm this selfish guy who just happens to have found a job he loves and gets paid for it well enough to keep his family safe in the times of the recession. Maybe I have no clue about the problems others face. May be. But what I do know is that I've always been searching for what I loved and maybe that's why I found it. May be. And what do you think?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Manual gearboxes - why one-upping doesn't work

Today I had to bring my wife's car to a workshop to get her window fixed and in the meantime I was strolling through the car dealership looking at the cars. They were all offered in manual gear transmission… which inspired this blog post.

Sometimes we go just in the wrong direction. With our product, with our solution, with our way of thinking. This is what is happening here in Europe with the manual gearbox.
Flickr

Why should I care about transmission?

I shouldn't. Yet they want me to. You see, in America they already know that to go from point A to point B you don't need to care the gear your car is running on. You only need the steering wheel, acceleration pedal and breaks. That's it. Yet here in Europe they insist we should care about gears and switch them furiously all the time.

"I have more control over my car"

This used to be me saying why I love the manual gearbox. Well, it's no longer true. The automatic gearboxes are so good these days that they do a better job controlling our cars than we do. My car has a fully automatic gearbox and my wife's has one too, but also with a "triptronic" kind of gearbox which enables us to switch gears without clutch if we want to. I've used it once. Didn't bother anymore. Automatic is so good.

New evolution: 7 gears in Porsche, 6 Gears in Hyundai…

The problem is with car rentals in Europe. They all come with manual gearboxes. Last time they gave me a Hyundai with 6 gears… which (they say) is an improvement to help the car save more fuel and work better… but between 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) the car asks me to switch between 6 gears now… instead of 5! So I have more work to do so that the car could save some fuel. Isn't that ridiculous?

Now even the most prominent car brand in the world which I thought was the most innovative one, too - Porsche - wants to introduce 7-shift gearbox. Really? Is this how we should be going? One-upping each other?

One-upping is not a solution. In any industry.

The point of this post is simple - not to talk just about cars - but to remind us all that one-upping each other is not a solution to a problem. Maybe we should disrupt the industry instead (like explain to us Europeans that automatic transmission is just better?) - just to make things better? It's like with Gillette brand - their razor will soon have 10 blades (every year there is one more) for maximum shaving efficiency… come on! :-)

Do you find yourself running in circles, too? Do you try to improve by adding more complexity? Where else did you see one-upping totally missing the point?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Power of the subconscious mind

I recently wrote about preparing your next day before going to sleep. I'd like to add more to it. I challenge you to start exploring the power of your subconscious mind. Your mind is really powerful. Uncover it.
Yourmind

"Sleep over it"

In my other post I focused on preparing a list of things to do for tomorrow… so that our subconscious mind can "digest" it overnight while we sleep. It's amazing how much clarity we have the next morning.

But it's more than that - the same goes to any problem we have. The saying to "sleep over it" applies to almost any tough decision, that's why it's crucial not to let the emotions take charge and really "sleep over" some of the most important decisions in your life.

Learning new languages… subconsciously

I'm now studying Japanese. I know it sounds totally crazy. I speak my mother tongue (Polish) and English, German and Spanish… it's just one more, right? Well, the problem is, that Japanese is so different. It doesn't come in any way from Latin or Germanic languages, so it's a totally new thing.

I started learning by listening to an audio-course (Pimsleur) and watching Hollywood movies I knew with Japanese audio-tracks (I didn't find many of those, unfortunately). The cool thing is that although between my last two trips to Japan I didn't find lots of time to actively learn, the listening part proved to be incredible.

When I came back to Japan in June, I started understanding more. Somehow listening to the conversations was more fruitful… I was very often able to figure out what the people around me were talking about (in Japanese!) and join in the conversation (unfortunately still in English) to the astonishment of my Japanese friends.

You see, although before my trip I was just listening without actively learning the language, my mind was learning. Subconsciously. Amazingly.

Projecting goals

The last thing I wanted to mention here is the thing about goals. Many "motivational books" tell you to project yourself in the future. To see how you want to be in a few years. What kind of life you're going to have. I thought exercises like these were ridiculous. Now I know for a fact they are not.

These "gurus" ask you to project your goals - to picture them. To see them. Why? So that they become more real to you and they sink in your memory. Why? Because then your mind will help you make good decisions.

That's right. Depending on what you want to be, your mind will subconsciously help you decide one way or the other. I know. I was surprised over the last few years how I was able to decide quickly on some really important things… because my mind new exactly where I was going.

Your subconscious mind is really powerful.

Use it, you'll be blown away. Train your mind, let it do some heavy-lifting for you, let it work to help you become a better person. I'm still amazed how little we know about our minds and how great a work they do for us.

Do you train your mind? Do you let it work? How?

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Outliers - the story of success by Malcolm Gladwell - Audiobook of the week

Through many recommendations I finally bought this book and "read" it (if you know me, you'll know that I never read, I listen to audiobooks). It's a fantastic read by Malcolm Gladwell about a common (mis)conception about Outliers in our society. It opens your mind and especially for a young dad like me, helps shape your kid's future:
Outliers

Get this book on: Audible Amazon

There are more "outliers" than we think. And there can be even more.

I always felt that it can't be true that there are just a few geniuses out there and there can be more... that many didn't have the same opportunities in life as others... but Malcolm Gladwell gives even stronger and more factual based arguments for this gut feeling of mine.

If we changed small things in schooling system, we'd have more outliers...

Sometimes it's only about some small habits, small changes that will help us stimulate and inspire more children to be better. The common misconception is that we need to "spot" these geniuses early in life and shape them to become even better. Well, it's not that easy, here are some examples:

- Choosing small kids for hockey (and prestigious schools) - when they choose small kids to qualify as top hockey players or top students, they are being chosen by the same age group... and with age of 6, children born in January are significantly more developed than children born in November or December...

- 10,000 hours of training - some studies have shown, that you need 10,000 hours of training to really excel at something... and these kids spotted early get that training that makes them better and widens the gap between those who didn't get a chance early on. The author also quotes The Beatles, Bill Gates and other geniuses that had close to 10,000 hours of training in their fields (playing and programming respectively) before their initial success. 10K hours amounts to 10 years with 20 hours of training per week.

- Resources and time - some people just by sheer luck or status or situation had a chance to be exposed to things hardly anyone else had in their time and thus could develop their skills significantly better than anyone else.

- Generations and timing - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer (and some other IT gurus) are all born within half a year from each other - they were born in the same time and thus had the same opportunity to cease the computer ear surge in the 80s

- Parents - just having parents who stimulate you, ask you question, challenge you and want more from you helps you become an outlier. Studies have shown that the gap between kids' development widens when they have summer vacations. Some kids just play and don't do anything useful when others go to camps, learn new skills and constantly train their brain.

And there is more! The definition of "outlier" is just not this easy....

What the book has really shown me is that it's a lot more to be an outlier... and it helped me think about upbringing of my daughter and how to shape her to become an outlier - and that almost anyone can become one if the environment around them wants it... I highly recommend this read to see that many geniuses are not born... they are being shaped.

And what do you think?
I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.