Change the way you work forever.

 REWORK Book by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Notes and Summary

 

FIRST

 

REWORK Book by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson - Notes and Summary

REWORK Book by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Notes and Summary

The new reality.

  • Is for people who are looking for an edge in their business. To work smarter and kick ass.
  • Today anyone can be in business. Tools that used to be out of reach are now readily available as the price of technology has dropped.
  • Tasks that would have been impossible a few years ago are simple today or what may have taken entire departments can be done by one person.
  • You don’t need to deplete your savings to start a business on the side. It can provide you with cash flow, and you can work from home.

 

TAKE DOWNS

Ignore the real world.

  • “This would never work in the real world” is often used to shut down a new idea. The real world is a somber place; it is where new ideas, novel approaches and foreign concepts always lose.
  • Only things that win in the “Real world” are what people already know and do. No matter how flawed or inefficient they may be.
  • This idea of the “Real World” is very pessimistic and assumes that society isn’t capable or ready for a change. People with this outlook want to drag others down into it and convince you that your ideas are impossible. Don’t believe them.
  • That world may be real for other people, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
  • This idea of the real world isn’t a place it is just an excuse for not trying, and it has nothing to do with you.

 

Learning from mistakes is overrated.

  • Failure is not a rite of passage. You will often hear that failure builds character and to fail early and fail often or even fail better. But other people’s failures are not yours.
  • If other people can’t market, build or price services it has nothing to do with you.
  • What you learn from mistakes is what not to do again which doesn’t tell you what you should do next so it’s not as valuable as some people would say.
  • It is much better to learn from your successes as this gives you real ammunition.
  • If something succeeds, you know what worked, and you can do it again and possibly even better.
  • Failure is not a prerequisite for success. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failure; it’s always building on what worked. So should you.

 

Planning is guessing.

  • Unless you are a fortune teller or a psychic a long term business plan is simply fantasy. There are too many unknown factors that are out of your hands to predict things accurately.
  • A plan makes you feel in control of stuff you can control. They are guesses.
  • Turning guesses into plans is dangerous as plans are inconsistent with improvisation. You have to be able to improvise. But a plan is driven by decisions made in the past.
  • I disregard for plans does not mean to say you shouldn’t think about the future, just don’t obsess over it or write it down. Decide what you will do this week, not the year.
  • Working without a plan may seem scary but blindly following a plan that does not respond to changing environments is even scarier.

 

Why grow?

  • Expansion and having a larger business should not always be the goal.
  • Find the right size for your business and stay there. Grow slow and see what feels right.
  • Small is not just a stepping stone it is a great destination in itself.
  • A big business would dream about being as agile and flexible as a small business.
  • Make your goal to run a business that’s sustainable and profitable, If it is big or small should not make a difference.

 

Workaholism

  • Our culture celebrates the idea of a workaholic.But working more does not mean you get more done.
  • You want to make sure you work in a sustainable manner otherwise you will just cause more problems for yourself.
  • You don’t just want to try and fix problems by throwing hours at them and brute force. You want to come up with efficient, elegant solutions.
  • It is much better to figure out a faster way to do things.

 

Enough with the entrepreneurs.

  • Be a starter. The term entrepreneur is outdated and loaded with baggage. Everyone should be encouraged to start their own business not just people that think they are entrepreneurs.
  • People are out there creating businesses and making profits by doing what they love on their terms and get paid for it. These are starters.

 

GO!

Make a dent in the universe.

  • To do great work, you must believe that you are making a difference in the world. That you are putting a meaningful dent in the universe and that what you are doing is part of something important.
  • You just have to make sure that your efforts feel valuable and that people would notice if you stopped doing what you do.
  • If you are going to do something, do something that matters.

 

Scratch your itch.

  • The easiest way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use.Find something that is missing in the world or an area where an excellent product does not exist that you would use and build that.
  • If you are solving someone else’s problem you are taking stabs in the dark but when you solve your problems you know exactly what the right answers are.
  • The solve your problem approach lets you fall in love with what you are making. There is no substitute for that.

 

Start making something.

  • Just start. Having the idea for eBay has nothing to do with actually creating eBay. What you DO is what matters not what you think or say or plan.
  • If you think the ideas you have are valuable, then go and try to sell them and see what you get for them. You likely won’t get much.
  • Until you start making something, your brilliant idea is only an idea, and everyone has one of those.
  • Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The real question is how well you execute.

 

No time is no excuse.

  • The most common reason people give is they do not have enough time.They claim they would do exceptional work, but there are not enough hours in the day.
  • But there is always enough time if you spend it right. You can work a day job and work on your project at night instead of watching TV.
  • You only have to squeeze in a few extra hours every week, and that will be enough to get something going.
  • When you want something bad enough, you make the time. Don’t give yourself an excuse. Take the responsibility of making your dreams come true.

 

Draw a line in the sand.

  • Once you get your project going keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing. Great businesses have a point of view.
  • You have to believe in something . You need to know what you are willing to fight for.
  • A strong stand is how you attract super fans. They will point to you and defend you and they spread the word further and wider and more passionately than any advertising.
  • Having a strong opinion will turn some people off, they will accuse you of being arrogant, but thats life, for everyone who loves you there will be others who hate you.
  • If no one is upset by what you are saying you are not pushing hard enough.
  • When you don’t know what you believe in everything is debatable. But when you stand for something decisions are obvious.

Mission statement impossible.

  • Live it or leave it. There is a world of difference between truly standing for something and just having a mission statement that says you stand for something.
  • Standing for something isn’t about just writing it down . Its about believing in it and living it.

 

Outside Money is Plan Z.

  • Far too often people look to raise money from outsiders. If you are building something like a factory you may need outside cash.
  • If you are running a service business you will not need expensive infrastructure.
  • No matter what kind of business you are starting it is best to take on as little outside cash as possible.
  • Spending other peoples money may sound great. But You give up control . Once you have accepted outside money you have to answer to them too.
  • Cashing out will begin to trump building a quality product because investors want their money back .
  • Spending other peoples money is addictive and it is usually a bad deal where you have no leverage.
  • Customers move down the totem pole as you end up building what the investors want instead of what the customers want.
  • Raising money is distracting you from doing the actual work.

 

You need less than you think.

  • Do you really need ten people or will two do for now ? Do you really need six months or can you make something in two ? Do you need a big office or can you work from a home office ? Do you need a warehouse or can you rent a small storage space or use your garage?
  • Maybe eventually you will need to go the bigger more expensive route but there is nothing wrong with being lean and efficient.
  • Good companies start in garages all the time and yours can too.

 

Start a business, not a start-up .

  • Start-ups are a magical place in a fairy tale. They spend other peoples money and are not concerned with revenue.
  • But every business has the same market forces to deal with. Revenue in , expenses out . Turn a profit or wind up gone. But start-ups try to ignore this reality.
  • Anyone who has the “We will figure out how to make a profit in the future” attitude is delusional.
  • Actual businesses worry about profit from day one. Act like an actual business and you have a better chance of succeeding.

 

Building to flip is building to flop.

  • You need a commitment strategy not an exit strategy. Your priorities are out of whack if you are thinking about how to get out before you even dive in .
  • You should be thinking how to make your project grow and succeed not how you are going to jump ship.
  • Focus on running a business you actually enjoy and believe in and will provide you with satisfaction.

 

Less Mass.

  • Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now you are the smallest, fastest and most lean your business will ever be  and from here on you will start to accumulate mass.
  • The more mass the more energy is required to change direction. Avoid mass wherever you can so you can quickly change anything.
  • With low mass you can fix mistakes quickly, you can change your priorities and you can change your mind.

 

PROGRESS

Embrace constraints.

  • “I do not have enough time, money, people, experience.” Stop complaining less is a good thing and constraints are advantages in disguise.
  • Limited resources force you to make do with what you have got and to be creative with it.
  • Writers use constraints to force creativity all the time. Having these constraints stops you from making bloated work.
  • See what you can do with what you have.

 

Build half a product , not a half-assed product.

  • You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product by trying to do them all at once.
  • You can’t do everything and do it all well. You have limited time, resources and abilities. Make a sacrifice and spend your time on one idea and make it great, do not waste your time making something half assed.
  • Getting to great starts by cutting stuff that is merely good.

 

Start at the epicenter.

  • When you start something new you have forces pulling you in many different directions.
  • You have stuff you could do and stuff you have to do. You should start with the stuff you HAVE to do . That is the epicentre.
  • To find the epicentre you can ask yourself “If i took this part away would what i am selling still exist?”
  • Find the epicenter and focus all your energy on making it the best it can possibly be. This build a strong foundation that everything else will rest on.

 

Ignore the details early on.

  • Details make the difference but getting infatuated with details too early leads to disagreement, meetings and delays.
  • You can get lost in things that don’t really matter and you waste time on things that will change anyway.
  • Also you often can’t recognise the details until after you start building and thats when you see what needs more attention. Start the work first and worry about the details later. Do not let the details delay the work.

 

Making the call is making progress.

  • When you put off decisions they pile up and piles get ignored, thrown out or dealt with in haste.
  • Swap “Lets think about it” for “Lets decide on it” whenever you can. Commit to making decisions and don’t wait for the perfect solution as it may never come and you end up wasting time.
  • Get into the rhythm of making choices. The more decisions you make the more progress you make. This will build momentum and boost morale.
  • You are as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow or next week so just do it.
  • Long projects drain morale and the longer things take the less likely they are to launch. Make the call and make progress while you have the motivation and momentum to do so.

 

Be a curator.

  • You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world in a single room that is called a warehouse.
  • What makes a museum great is the stuff that is not on the walls. A curator is involved making conscious decisions about what should stay and what should go.
  • Its the stuff you leave out that matters. COnstantly look for things to remove, simplify and streamline. Stick to what is truly essential.
  • You can always add things back later if you need too.

 

Throw less at the problem.

  • When things aren’t working the natural inclination is to throw more at the problem, more people, time or money. But all that will do is make a bigger problem.
  • The right way to do it is the opposite. Cut back.
  • Do less. You will be forced to make tough calls and sort out what truly matters.

 

Focus on what won’t change.

  • Lots of companies follow what is hot and new and the latest trends but that is the fools path.
  • The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change and will be timeless.
  • Fashion fades away so focus on permanent features that will never go out of style.

 

Tone is your fingers.

  • You can buy the same guitar, effects pedals and amplifier as Jimi Hendrix but when you play that rig it will still sound like you.
  • Fancy gear can help but at the end of the day the tone will come from you.
  • Its always tempting to obsess over tools instead of what you are going to do with the tools
  • People use equipment as a crutch. They dont want to put in the hours required to improve they just want to spend money on fancy gear that they think will make them improve. They are looking for a shortcut.
  • You don’t need the best gear in the world and you sure don’t need it to get started. The content is what matters not the tools. Use whatever you have already got or can afford.

 

Sell your by products.

  • When you make something you always make something else. Everything has a by product. Spot these opportunities

 

Launch Now

  • When is your product or service finished and when should you put it on the market ? .
  • This is probably a lot sooner than you will be comfortable with. Once your product does what it needs to do just get it out there.
  • Just because you have a list of things still to do does not mean it is not done. You cannot put a project on hold because you have a few leftovers. You can do them later.
  • Put off everything you don’t need for launch. Build the necessities now. Worry about the luxuries later.
  • You still want to build something great just recognise the best way to get there is through iterations.

 

PRODUCTIVITY

Illusions of agreement.

  • The business world is littered with dead documents that do nothing but waste peoples time. These documents take forever to produce and seconds to forget.
  • If you do have to explain something you should be doing everything you can to remove layers of abstraction.   With too much abstraction a hundred people could read the same document and interpret it a hundred different ways.
  • Get the chisel out and start making something real. Anything else is just a distraction.

 

Reasons to quit.

  • Its easy to put your head down and just work on what you think needs to be done but its a lot harder to pull your head up and ask why.
  • The important questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you are doing the work that matters are …
  • Why are you doing this ? What problem are you solving? Is this actually useful ? Are you adding value ? Will this change behaviour ? Is there an easier way ? What could you be doing instead ?
  • Is it really worth it ? Is what you doing really working. Is it worth pulling an all nighter or could you finish it up tomorrow ?  Determine the real value of what you are about to do before taking the plunge.
  • Keep asking yourself the above questions, you don’t need to make it a formal process just dont let it slide.

 

Interruption is the enemy of productivity.

  • If you are constantly staying late and working weekends its not because theres too much work to be done its because you are not getting enough done at work and the reason is interruptions.
  • When do you get the most don ? Late at night and early mornings when you have no interruptions
  • Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. You can’t get meaningful things done if you have to stop and start all the time. Get in the zone and set up a system that will give you alone time and block out all interruptions

 

Meetings are toxic.

  • The worst interruptions of all are meetings. They are usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things. They drift off subject. They require preparation. Its easy for one person to waste everyone’s time. One meeting will lead to another.
  • If you must have a meeting try to make it as productive as possible by sticking to rules.
  • Set a timer, when it rings the meeting is over. No exceptions. Invite as few people as possible. Always have a clear agenda. Begin with a specific problem. Point to real things and suggest real changes. Always end with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

 

Good enough is fine.

  • A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions. Flexing your intellectual muscles can be intoxicating.
  • A better idea is to use a judo approach one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Judo solutions are all about getting the most out of doing the least.
  • When good enough gets the job done, go for it . Its way better than wasting resources or doing nothing because you can’t afford a complex solution.

 

Quick Wins.

  • Momentum fuels innovation. It keeps you going It drives you and without it you can’t go anywhere. If you are not motivated by what you are working on it won’t be very good.
  • One way to build momentum is to get some things done and move on to the next thing.
  • The longer something takes the less likely you are going to finish it. Small victories let you celebrate and release good news and you want a steady stream of good news.

Do not be a hero.

  • A lot of times it is better to be a quitter than a hero .You can be determined to make things work despite how much longer it is taking compared to what you planned to spend on it.The hero will think that you cannot give up .
  • But you have to asses if the task is really worth it? If a task was worth it it would not take a large chunk of your time that you could have gotten many other things done.
  • Sometimes the obvious solution is quitting. Sometimes its exactly what you should do .
  • If you have already spent too much time on something walk away from it . You can’t get the time back and the worst thing is to waste more time on it.

 

Go to sleep.

  • Forgoing sleep is a bad idea. Sure you get those extra hours right now but you pay for it later. Once in a while you can pull an all nighter just don’t make it a habit.
  • When you lack sleep you become stubborn, lack creativity have diminished morale and are easily irritable.

 

Your Estimates suck.

  • We are all terrible estimators. We think we can guess how long something will take but the truth is we have no idea. We only see best case scenarios but reality is never like that.
  • Break big tasks into smaller thing. The smaller things are the easier they are to estimate . But you are still likely to get it wrong but you will be less wrong.

 

Long lists don’t get done.

  • Start making smaller to do lists. Long lists collect dust. They are guilt trips , the longer the list of unfinished items the worse you will feel about it  and stress you out.
  • Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. You will still have the same amount of stuff to do but you can look at the small picture and be motivated.
  • Whenever you can divide a problem into smaller chunks so you can get it done as quickly as possible.
  • Simply prioritise visually and put the most important things at the top , do not worry about labels or numbers.

 

Make tiny decisions.

  • Big decisions are hard to make and hard to change. Once you make one you tend to continue with it and stick with it even if it was the wrong decision.
  • Instead make small choices that are enough that they are effectively temporary.
  • Small decisions mean you can afford to change. This doesn’t mean you can’t make big plans it just means you achieve those things one small decision at a time.
  • Attainable goals are the best ones to have.

 

COMPETITORS

Do not copy.

  • Sometimes copying can be part of the learning process.  but copying in business is more nefarious. Its tempting to try and build a business by being a copycat but it is a formula for failure.
  • You have to understand why something works or why it is the way it is and copying skips those steps.
  • If you are a copycat you can never keep up You never lead you always follow.

 

Decommoditize your product.

  • If you are successful other people will try and copy what you do. Its a fact of life.
  • A great way to protect you from copycats is to make YOU part of the product.
  • Inject what is unique about yourself into the product or service and this will make it something no one else can offer.
  • Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product and competitors will never be able to copy it.

 

Pick a fight.

  • If you think a competitor sucks , say so . When you do you will find others that will agree with you and rally to your side.
  • Being the Anti – Is a great way to separate yourself from the pack and get followers.
  • You can even put yourself as an opponent of an entire industry.
  • Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers. Taking a stand will always stand out. People get stoked by conflict. Passions are ignited and they will take notice.

 

Underdo your competition.

  • Conventional wisdom says you must outdo your competition and constantly one up them.
  • Instead you should do less than your competitors. Solve the simple problems and leave the big nasty problems to the competitors.
  • Dont shy away from the fact your product or service does less. highlight it and be proud of it.

 

Who cares what they are doing ?

  • In the end its not worth paying much attention to the competition anyway . Because worrying about the competition can turn into an obsession Every little move becomes something to analyse, this leads to stress and anxiety and is a terrible state of mind to have.
  • Instead focus on yourself and your own work . These are the things that are within your control . THere is no point spending time worrying about someone else when you can spend that time on improving yourself.
  • If you focus on other peoples ideas you become reactionary instead of visionary  . Just focus on making your own product the greatest it can be.

 

EVOLUTION

Say no by default.

  • “if i had listened to customers i would have given them a faster horse” – Henry Ford.
  • It is very easy to say yes to another feature an optimistic deadline a mediocre design. You can make the stack of things you have said yes to so tall that it will out grow the things you should really be doing.
  • Get into the habit of saying no. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable. But the alternative is even worse. You will drag things out and make it more complicated.

 

Let your customer Outgrow you.

  • When you stick with your current customers no matter what then you will wind up cutting yourself off from new customers.
  • If your product or service only becomes tailored to existing customers you can stop appealing to any new customers which will cause your business to fail.
  • Scaring away new customers is worse than losing old customers. If you let customers outgrow you it will keep things simple and basic which is easier for you.
  • You can’t change everything to suit everyone. Just be true to the type of customer you want to attract.

 

Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority.

  • The enthusiasm you have for a new idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth. You will get new ideas from everywhere and if you end up chasing them all you will never get anywhere.
  • Let your latest ideas cool off a bit first. Keep having great ideas but just don’t act in the heat of the moment. Write them down and let them sit for a few days and look over them again with a calm mind.
  • Only with a calm mind can you make a good judgement about priority.

 

Be at-home good.

  • To often you can buy a product that looks great in the store, the packaging and marketing but then you get it home and it doesn’t live up the the claims and hype of the box.
  • You want to make a product that is even better when you get it home even if you have to sacrifice some of the in store sizzle.
  • Being great at a few things and delivering on those may not seem as good as competitors who load up with bells and whistles . But to create a long term relationship of trust with your customer it is better to be great at a few things and exceed their expectations.

 

Don’t write it down.

  • Don’t keep track of every little request from customers. The important ones you will hear over and over again and that is what you should focus on. The ones you can’t forget are the ones you should work on.
  • The really important stuff won’t just go away but trivial stuff will.

 

Welcome obscurity.

  • No one knows who you are when you start out and that is a blessing in disguise. You can use this time to make mistakes without the whole world watching them.
  • You can test random ideas and try new things and it won’t be a big deal if you make mistakes. The obscurity will protect your ego and preserve your confidence.
  • The early days of obscurity are something you will miss later on when you are under the microscope. In the beginning take risks without worrying about embarrassing yourself.

 

Build an audience.

  • All companies have customers but lucky or great companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have an audience.
  • Most business will have to spend money to reach people every time they have something to say. But this approach is expensive and unreliable.
  • Today’s smartest companies know that instead of going out to reach people it is much better to have people who want to come to you and listen to everything you have to say.
  • When you build an audience you don’t have to buy peoples attention they will just give it to you.

 

Out-teach your competition.

  • Everyone is advertising and sponsoring and has salespeople working for them. Instead of trying to outsell them you should try to out teach them.
  • Teach and you will form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics. You can buy attention with an ad but you will earn loyalty by teaching them and it will form a stronger connection with more trust and more respect.
  • Teaching is something a smaller company can do that larger companies cannot. Teaching is your chance to out maneuver them.

 

Emulate chefs.

  • Why do you know some great chefs when there are countless great chefs in the world ? They are the ones that share everything they know in cookbooks and on cooking shows.
  • As a business owner you should share everything you know too. Most businesses are paranoid and secretive but you shouldn’t be afraid of sharing.
  • What can you tell the world about how you operate thats informative, educational and promotional ?

 

Go behind the scenes.

  • Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business work. Even boring jobs can be fascinating when presented right.
  • People are curious about how things are made, like a factory tour or behind the scenes footage.
  • Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them as they will feel a bond with you and see you as a human being instead of a faceless company and they will develop a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for what you do .

 

Nobody likes plastic flowers.

  • The business world is full of professionals who wear the uniform and try to seem perfect. But they will just come off as stiff and boring and people can’t relate to that.
  • Do not be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to that. We like real flowers the wilt not fake plastic flowers.
  • Talk like you really talk and reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss. It might not seem as professional but it will be a lot more genuine.

 

Press releases are spam.

  • A press release is a generic pitch sent out to hundreds of people hoping that someone will take notice of it . This is the same as spam.
  • Press releases are supposed to get you noticed but these are using the same technique as everyone else and will not stand out.
  • Instead call someone or write a personal note. Contact journalists who have written stories about similar companies or products.
  • Do something meaningful. Be remarkable. Stand out. be unforgettable.

 

Forget about the wall street journal.

  • Forget about all the big mainstream publications , getting a hold of someone at those places is almost impossible. You are better off focusing on a smaller trade publication or niche blog.
  • The barrier is much lower and you don’t have to deal with an editorial board. The audience will be more targeted and people will already trust these tastemakers.
  • Coverage in mainstream publications is nice but you will get a lot more traction from stories in smaller more trusted platforms.

 

Drug dealers get it right.

  • Drug dealers are astute business people. They will give away some product up front for free because they know you will be back for more.
  • Make your product so good and addictive so that giving customers a free taste will make sure they come back ready to buy.
  • Be confident in what you are offering and give a little bit away for free.

 

Marketing is not a department.

  • Everything is marketing. Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing all the time. Every time you answer the phone, send an email , your invoice or any communication between you and the customer is marketing.
  • All of these are more important than a single ad. Marketing is more than an individual act it is the sum total of everything you do.

 

The myth of the overnight sensation.

  • You will not be a big hit right away and you will not get rich quick. Any overnight success story you hear is not the full story. It usually involves years of hard work before the success happens.
  • Start building an audience , start getting people interested and keep at it for a few years and then one day you might be an overnight success story.

 

HIRING

Do it yourself first.

  • Never hire anyone to do a job until you have done it yourself first. That is the only way you will understand the nature of the work and what a job well done looks like.
  • You can write realistic job description and know what question to ask in an interview and it will make you a better manager.
  • Be intimately involved in all aspects of your business otherwise you will end up in the dark and in the hands of others.

 

Hire when it hurts.

  • Do not hire for pleasure hire to kill pain. But always ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t hire anyone, if the extra work is really necessary or if you can solve the problem first with a change of practice ?
  • If you lose someone don’t replace them straight away, see how long you you can get by without them as you may be able to cope and it will save you money and help streamline your business.
  • The right time to hire is when there is simply more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time.

 

Pass on great people.

  • Some companies are addicted to hiring. But pass on hiring people you don’t need and bringing on extra staff for the sake of it. You will be doing your company more harm than good if you hire talented people but give them nothing to do .
  • Problems arise when you have more people than you need because you will start to invent work to keep people busy but it will not be the necessary work and can lead to artificial project that will just increase the complexity of whatever you are doing.

 

Strangers at a cocktail party.

  • If you go to a cocktail party and no one knows each other you will find the conversation dull and boring and generally small talk where you shy away from controversial opinions.
  • A small intimate dinner party with old friends will involve genuinely interesting conversation.
  • If you hire a ton of people too rapidly you will create a strangers at a cocktail party vibe where everyone is too polite and doesn’t want to offend anyone.
  • You need to build a safe environment that people feel they can be honest in . Hire slowly and let your team grow like an intimate dinner party.

 

Resumes are ridiculous.

  • We all know resumes are a joke filled with exaggerations and buzzwords. They can be sent out to hundreds of companies in just another form of spam.
  • You want candidates that care specifically about your company. To do this check the cover letter and make sure you get actual communication instead of a list of skills. Make sure it is personalised for you.
  • You can tell more about a person from the cover letter than from the resume.

 

Years of irrelevance.

  • A job ad might ask for a certain amount of years experiance but that really tells you nothing about the candidate.
  • You do of course need a baseline level of experience of 6 months to a year but beyond that the curve of what people will learn starts to flatten out.
  • How long someone has been doing something is overrated and not important you want to concern yourself with how well they have been doing it.

 

Forget about formal education.

  • I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. – Mark Twain.
  • Plenty of companies have formal education requirements. But you will miss out on plenty of intelligent people who don’t excel in the classroom . Too much time in academia actually will do harm .

 

Everybody works.

  • Delegators are dead weight. With a small team you need people who will actually do work not delegate work. No one can be above work.
  • Delegators will tie people up to make themselves feel important while not doing any work and drawing other people away from doing the real work.

 

Hire managers of one.

  • Managers are people that come up with their own goals and execute them. People who don’t need direction or daily check ups they manage themselves and get things done.
  • You want someone who is capable of setting up projects from scratch and completing them. Find those people and members of your team wont burden others.

 

Hire great writers.

  • If you have to decide among a few different people to hire pick whoever is the best writer. No matter what position you are looking to fill writing skills will always pay off as it is a sign of clear thinking
  • Good writers can communicate clearly and make things easy to understand. This is the currency for good ideas and can be more valuable than any other skill. .

 

The best are everywhere.

  • Just because someone lives far away is no excuse not to hire them. In todays world with our current technology it is easy to bring everyone together online.
  • Catch up online a few hours everyday and meet in person once and a while but just focus on hiring the best person do not worry about where they live. Focus on talent not geography .

 

Test drive employees.

  • Interviews can only tell you so much But you really need to evaluate how people work from day to day and the best way to do that is actually see people work.
  • Hire people for a mini project that may only take a day or two and you will see how they make decisions and get to judge them on actions instead of words.

 

DAMAGE CONTROL

Own your bad news.

  • If something bad happens someone will want to tell the story so it is better off that it is you delivering the story. Otherwise it creates an environment for rumours or false information to spread.
  • If something bad happens , tell your customers, don’t think you can just ignore it. In this day and age it is very hard to hide information and keep secrets.
  • People will respect you more if you are open and honest. and responsive during a crisis.
  • You want to own the story. The message should come from the top , spread the message far and wide, apologise the way a real person would, honestly be concerned about the fate of your customers.

 

Speed changes everything.

  • Getting back to people as quickly as possible is probably the most important thing you can do in customer service. You can easily diffuse a bad situation and turn it into a good one if you are speedy.
  • People are now used to waiting , being put on hold so you can stand out and make people happy by responding fast. This is especially true if your response is personal.
  • Even if you don’t have a perfect answer saying “let me research it and let me get back to you” can work wonders.

 

How to say you’re sorry.

  • You may not have a great way of saying sorry but there are plenty of terrible ways.
  • One of the worst ways is the non apology apology which is an apology but does not accept blame. “we are sorry this upset you”. Whatever
  • A good apology accepts responsibility and has no conditional “if” phrase attached. It shows people that the buck stops with you which is why an “I” apology is much stronger than a “We” apology.
  • Think how you would feel if you were on the other end of the apology. There is no magic apology to win back trust. Keep in mind that everything you do before things went wrong counts for much more than the apology. If you already have a rapport with your customers they are more likely to cut you some slack.

 

Put everyone on the front lines.

  • A lot of companies have a split of customer facing and non customer facing employees. This means that the people at the back of house never get to directly hear what the customers are telling them. This can lead to confusion.
  • The more people you have between your customers words and the people doing the work the more likely it is that the message will get distorted.
  • Everyone on your team should be connected to customers, it doesn’t have to be everyday but at least a few times a year. Do not protect people from feedback.

 

Take a deep breath.

  • After you change anything in a service or product knee jerk reactions will pour in. People will always be shocked at changes and react straight away but resist the urge to panic and make quick changes in response to this criticism.
  • Passions will flare in the beginning but ride it out and see if things settle . Humans are creatures of habit and see change as a negative but have often made up their minds before even giving the new way a try.
  • Remember that negative reactions will always be louder than positive ones. Still let them know you are listening and are aware of what they are saying but let things go and see if people change and adjust and end up liking the new way.

 

CULTURE

You don’t create a culture.

  • A culture is a by product of consistent behaviour. It will just happen. If you encourage trust people will be more trusting and if you treat customers right then treating customers right will become the culture.
  • You can’t force a culture but it will develop overtime.

 

Decisions are temporary.

  • Do not make up problems you do not have yet. Its not a problem until it is a real problem. Do not waste time resolving “What if?” problems. As most likely they will never happen anyway.
  • Besides the decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. When circumstances change your decisions can change.
  • Do not waste time , energy or shoot down ideas because of problems that may never happen.

 

Skip the rock stars.

  • Too many companies post adds looking for ninjas or rock stars. Instead of looking to get a room full of rock stars think about the room instead and how you can make it an environment that encourages everyone to do great work.
  • You want to create an environment that gets the full potential out of everyone in it so they all do great work.
  • These environments develop out of trust, autonomy and responsibility. Environments that show respect for great work and the people who do it.

 

They’re not thirteen.

  • If you treat people like children you get children’s work. Yet that is how a lot of managers treat their employees. They have them ask for permission , they need to get approval ,and in that culture you will develop non thinkers.
  • It creates a dynamic which has no trust. If you have to ban employees for doing things that time won’t magically convert to great work. You will gain nothing and lose trust.

 

Send people home at 5.

  • You don’t need more hours of work out of your employees you need better hours. People get the work done in the office because the have lives and somewhere else to be and will find ways to be efficient when they have to .
  • If you want something done ask the busiest person. You want busy people with a life outside of work and don’t expect work to be someone’s entire life.

 

Do not scar on the first cut.

  • The natural tendency when something goes wrong the first time is to make a policy straight away. Policies are organisational scar tissue, codified overreactions to situations that are often unlikely to repeat.
  • This is how bureaucracies are born and sneak up one policy at a time. Don’t create a policy because one person did something they are only for situations that come up repeatedly.

 

Sound like you.

  • When in business don’t try to sound so big with stiff language formal announcements and titles, artificial friendliness  and legalese. When you read this stuff it will sound like a robot wrote it instead of you.
  • The mask of professionalism is a joke yet small companies try to emulate this thinking it makes them sound big when really it makes them sound ridiculous.
  • A small company’s greatest asset is the ability to communicate directly with customers without having to seem like a faceless corporation.
  • Write to read don’t just write to write. Avoid corporate speak and useless jargon just be honest.

Four letter words.

  • The four letter words you should never use in business are need, must, cant , easy, just, only and fast.
  • These words create black and white situations but the truth is rarely like that and people will get upset if you misrepresent something.
  • Very few things need to get done instead try :What do you think of this?” or “How does this sound?  Dont make assumptions.
  • Once these words are said it can be hard to find solutions to problems as you get boxed into a corner by absolutes.

 

ASAP is poison.

  • ASAP is always implied so there is no reason to say it. Everyone always wants things done as quick as they can be. If you always use ASAP you mark everything as high priority and when everything is high priority then nothing becomes the high priority .
  • Do not use this false sense of urgency to create stress and burnout and only use emergency language for real emergencies.

 

CONCLUSION

Inspiration is perishable.

  • Everyone has ideas and ideas are immortal and will last forever. But what doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration always has an expiration date.
  • If you want to do something you have to do it right away when you are inspired. If you put it on a shelf you may never get the inspiration back to do it again.
  • Inspiration is a productivity multiplier and a motivator but it won’t wait for you . If it grabs you grab it back , ride it and put it to work for you.

 

Peace, love and raging waters,
Sonny Brown

REWORK Book by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Notes and Summary