ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever
Authors: Fried, Jason; Hansson, David Heinemeier
Fried, Jason, and David Heinemeier Hansson. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever. Ebury Publishing, 2010. Kindle file.
Notes by: Jacopo Perfetti.
Takedowns
Planning is guessing > 169
Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands:
Planning is guessing > 174
Plans let the past drive the future. They put blinders on you.
Planning is guessing > 175
Plans are inconsistent with improvisation. And you have to be able to improvise.
Planning is guessing > 176
You have to be able to pick up opportunities that come along. Sometimes you need to say, “We’re going in a new direction because that’s what makes sense today.”
Planning is guessing > 178
The timing of long-range plans is screwed up too.
Planning is guessing > 182
Plans more than a few pages long just wind up as fossils in your file cabinet.
Planning is guessing > 186
Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.
Why grow? > 197
Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Maybe it’s forty. Maybe it’s two hundred. Or maybe it’s just you and a laptop.
Why grow? > 200
Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination in itself. Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible?
Why grow? > 201
And remember, once you get big, it’s really hard to shrink without firing people, damaging morale, and changing the entire way you do business.
Why grow? > 207
Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small, should be proud.
Workaholism > 211
Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t
Workaholism > 212
mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.
Workaholism > 212
Workaholics wind up creating more problems than they solve. First off, working like that just isn’t sustainable over time. When the burnout crash comes—and it will—it’ll hit that much harder. Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions. They even create crises. They don’t look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime.
Enough with “entrepreneurs” > 228
Everyone should be encouraged to start his
Enough with “entrepreneurs” > 228
own business, not just some rare breed that self-identifies as entrepreneurs.
Enough with “entrepreneurs” > 231
So let’s replace the fancy-sounding word with something a bit more down-to-earth. Instead of entrepreneurs, let’s just call them starters. Anyone who creates a new business is a starter.
Go
Make a dent in the universe > 240
This doesn’t mean you need to find the cure for cancer. It’s just that your efforts need to feel valuable. You want your customers to say, “This makes my life better.” You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice.
Scratch your own itch > 255
37signals,
Start making something > 281
We all have that one friend who says, “I had the idea for eBay. If only I had acted on it, I’d be a billionaire!” That logic is pathetic and delusional.
Start making something > 284
Think your idea’s that valuable? Then go try to sell it and see what you get for it.
No time is no excuse > 292
The most common excuse people give: “There’s not enough time.”
No time is no excuse > 294
Come on. There’s always enough time if you spend it right. And don’t think you have to quit your day job, either. Hang onto it and start work on your project at night.
No time is no excuse > 300
When you want something bad enough, you make the time—
No time is no excuse > 300
The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough.
Mission statement impossible > 331
There’s a world of difference between truly standing for something and having a mission statement that says you stand for something.
Outside money is Plan Z > 352
But a lot of companies don’t need expensive infrastructure—especially these days.
Outside money is Plan Z > 355
avoid outside funding.
Outside money is Plan Z > 356
Spending other people’s money may sound great, but there’s
Outside money is Plan Z > 357
attached. Here’s why: You give up control. When you turn to outsiders for funding, you have to answer to them too. That’s fine at first, when everyone agrees. But what happens down the road? Are you starting your own business to take orders from someone else? Raise money and that’s what you’ll wind up doing. “Cashing out” begins to trump building a quality business. Investors want their money back—and quickly (usually three to five years). Long-term sustainability goes out the window when those involved only want to cash out as soon as they can. Spending other people’s money is addictive. There’s nothing easier than spending other people’s money. But then you run out and need to go back for more. And every time you go
Outside money is Plan Z > 366
It’s usually a bad deal. When you’re just beginning, you have no leverage. That’s a terrible time to enter into any financial transaction. Customers move down the totem pole. You wind up building what investors want instead of what customers want. Raising money is incredibly distracting.
You need less than you think > 376
You need less than you think Do you really need ten people or will
You need less than you think > 389
There’s nothing wrong with being frugal.
Start a business, not a startup > 394
Start a business, not a startup
Start a business, not a startup > 399
The problem with this magical place is it’s a fairy tale. The truth is every business, new or old, is governed by the same set of market forces and economic rules. Revenue in, expenses out. Turn a profit or wind up gone.
Start a business, not a startup > 404
A business without a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.
Start a business, not a startup > 406
Actual businesses worry about profit from day one.
Building to flip is building to flop > 422
That’s why you often hear about business owners who sell out, retire for six months, and then get back in the game. They miss the thing they gave away. And usually, they’re back with a business that isn’t nearly as good as their first.
Less mass > 432
Avoid these things whenever you can. That way, you’ll be able to change direction easily. The more expensive it is to make a change, the less likely you are to make it.
Progress
Embrace constraints > 455
“I DON’T HAVE enough time/ money/ people/ experience.” Stop whining. Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you
Embrace constraints > 456
to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.
Start at the epicenter > 489
The way to find the epicenter is to ask yourself this question: “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?”
Making the call is making progress > 524
Don’t make things worse by overanalyzing and delaying before you even get going.
Tone is in your fingers > 581
In business, too many people obsess over tools, software tricks, scaling issues, fancy office space, lavish furniture, and other frivolities instead of what really matters. And what really matters is
Tone is in your fingers > 582
how to actually get customers and make money.
Sell your by-products > 594
Our last book, Getting Real, was a by-product. We wrote that book without even knowing it. The experience that came from building a company and building software was the waste from actually doing the work. We swept up that knowledge first into blog posts, then into a workshop series, then into a .pdf, and then into a paperback. That by-
Sell your by-products > 596
product has made 37signals more than $ 1 million directly and probably more than another $ 1 million indirectly. The book you’re reading right now is a by-product too.
Launch now > 608
Once your product does what it needs to do, get it out there.
Productivity
Illusions of agreement > 641
If you need to explain something, try getting real with it. Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it. Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it. Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction.
Reasons to quit > 669
Are you adding value? Adding something is easy; adding value is hard. Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers? Can they get more out of it than they did before? Sometimes things you think are adding value actually subtract from it. Too much ketchup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance.
Reasons to quit > 672
Will this change behavior? Is what you’re working on really going to change anything?
Meetings are toxic > 731
Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room. Point to real things and suggest real changes. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.
Quick wins > 758
If you absolutely have to work on long-term projects, try to dedicate one day a week (or every two weeks) to small victories that generate enthusiasm.
Quick wins > 762
The quicker it’s in the hands of customers, the better off you’ll be.
Don’t be a hero > 774
Keep in mind that the obvious solution might very well be quitting. People automatically associate quitting with failure, but sometimes that’s exactly what you should do. If you already spent too much time on something that wasn’t worth it, walk away. You can’t get that time back. The worst thing you can do now is waste even more time.
Your estimates suck > 796
Your estimates suck
Long lists don’t get done > 820
Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists.
Competitors
Don’t copy > 860
So much of the work an original creator puts into something is invisible. It’s buried beneath the surface.
Decommoditize your product > 873
At Zappos, customer-service employees
Decommoditize your product > 873
don’t use scripts and are allowed to talk at length with customers. The call center and the company’s headquarters are in the same place, not oceans apart. And all Zappos employees—even those who don’t work in customer service or fulfillment—start out by spending four weeks answering phones and working in the warehouse. It’s this devotion to customer service that makes Zappos unique among shoe sellers.
Who cares what they’re doing? > 930
Focus on yourself instead. What’s going on in here is way more important
Who cares what they’re doing? > 930
than what’s going on out there. When you spend time worrying about someone else, you can’t spend that time improving yourself. Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary. You wind up offering your competitor’s products with a different coat of paint. If you’re planning to build “the iPod killer” or “the next Pokemon,” you’re already dead. You’re allowing the competition
Who cares what they’re doing? > 935
to set the parameters. You’re not going to out-Apple Apple. They’re defining the rules of the game. And you can’t beat someone who’s making the rules. You need to redefine the rules, not just build something slightly better.
Who cares what they’re doing? > 939
If you’re just going to be like everyone else, why are you even doing this? If you merely replicate competitors, there’s no point to your existence.
Promotion
Out-teach your competition > 1067
Big companies can afford a Super Bowl ad; you can’t. But you can afford to teach, and that’s something they’ll never do, because big companies
Out-teach your competition > 1068
are obsessed with secrecy.
Forget about the Wall Street Journal > 1130
You’re better off focusing on getting your story into a trade publication or picked up by a niche blogger.
The myth of the overnight sensation > 1161
You will not be a big hit right away. You will not get rich quick. You are not so special that everyone else will instantly
The myth of the overnight sensation > 1162
pay attention. No one cares about you. At least not yet. Get used to it.
The myth of the overnight sensation > 1166
Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth. It’s hard, but you have to be patient. You have to grind it out. You have to do it for a long time before the right people notice.
Hiring
Pass on great people > 1203
Pass on hiring people you don’t need, even if you think that person’s a great catch. You’ll be doing your company more harm than good if you bring in talented people who have nothing important to do.
Pass on great people > 1205
Problems start when you have more people than you need. You start inventing work to keep everyone busy. Artificial work leads to artificial projects.
Strangers at a cocktail party > 1219
You need an environment where everyone feels safe enough to be honest when things get tough. You need to know how far you can push someone. You need to know what people really mean when they say something.
Strangers at a cocktail party > 1220
So hire slowly. It’s the only way to avoid winding up at a cocktail party of strangers.
Forget about formal education > 1254
Ninety percent of CEOs currently heading the top five hundred American companies did not receive undergraduate degrees from Ivy League colleges. In fact, more received their undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin than from Harvard (the most heavily represented Ivy school, with nine CEOs). 1
Everybody works > 1267
small team,
Test-drive employees > 1315
1Carol Hymowitz, “Any College Will Do,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2006, online.wsj.com/ article/ SB115853818747665842. html
Culture
Decisions are temporary > 1436
It’s not a problem until it’s a real problem. Most of the things you worry about never happen anyway.
They’re not thirteen > 1458
When you treat people like children, you get children’s work.