ReWork is a great book by the guys from 37Signals. (a great company with great products)

If you haven’t read it, you should.

Here’s 44 points that I thought were important for me to remember:

  1. Learning from mistakes is overrated:
    1. Failure teaches you what not to do.
    2. Success teaches you what to do and expand upon.
    3. Already successful entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed again:
      1. Serial success rates for a next business is 34%
      2. First timer success rate 23%
  2. Long term plans are nothing more than guesses
    1. Plan what you are going to do this week instead of this year.
    2. Most of the time you can’t make an informed decision, until you’re in the thick of it.
  3. Being a large business is overrated
    1. Having more feeds ego but may not be optimal
    2. Don’t expand for expansion sake:
  4. Workaholism is unnecessary and ineffective
    1. Stop solving problems  by throwing hours at it, instead fix it as quickly & efficiently as possible and move on
  5. Make a dent in the universe:
    1. “IF you’re going to do something, do something that matters. These little guys came out of nowhere and destroyed old models that had been around for decades. You can do the same in your industry.”
    2. - Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 32). Crown  Business. Kindle Edition.
    3. This is your life work — make a difference.
  6. Build products you need
    1. You know the problem intimately and can measure if your solution is working or not
    2. Bill Bowerman, of Nike, scratched his own itch.
      1. “Track coach Bill Bowerman decided that his team needed better, lighter running shoes. So he went out to his workshop and poured rubber into the family waffle iron. That’s how Nike’s famous waffle sole was born”
      2. Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 35). Crown Business. Kindle Edition.
  7. Start making something:
    1. Ideas are nothing without actions
    2. Stop telling your friends that you had the Idea to start EBay, and start building the next great thing
  8. No time is no excuse
    1. Stop watching TV and wasting time & instead work on your idea.
    2. Wake up and make it happen. No one is going to hand it to you (unless you’re Mark Zuckerburg … I used to love watching The Social Network… now it just makes me mad.)
    3. This is true with anything: Losing weight, learning a language, etc.
  9. Draw a line in the sand
    1. Your product can’t please everyone.
    2. Limit your features and create something that a few people love. They’ll be the best advocate of your product… even better than you.
  10. Making the call is making progress
    1. You can’t build on let’s think about it, but you can build on “done”.
    2. Just do it now, and adjust during and after.
  11. Be a curator
    1. “You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room. That’s a warehouse. What makes a museum great is the stuff that’s not on the walls. Someone says no.”
    2. Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 80). Crown Business. Kindle Edition.
  12. Throw less at the problem
    1. recognize that it’s better to do what you can well, then over extend and under-perform
    2. Offer services you’re great at to enough people, and you’ll have a business that grows itself.
  13. Focus on what won’t change.
    1. Desire for certain design elements will change
    2. Great customer service, integrity and a reliable product will always be in demand
    3. For our web design: We need simplicity, stability, and optimization
  14. Sell your by-products
    1. You can’t make anything without a by-product
    2. For us our product is web design & dev.
    3. Our by-products are marketing, SEO & creative content
    4. You can sell your by products to your current customer base or to a new customer base
    5. “Henry Ford learned of a process for turning wood scraps from the production of Model T’s into charcoal briquets. He built a charcoal plant and Ford Charcoal was created (later renamed Kingsford Charcoal). Today, Kingsford is still the leading manufacturer of charcoal in America.*”
    6. Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 91). Crown Business. Kindle Edition.
    7. Info products are great by-products for customers who may want to do it themselves or can’t afford your services
  15. Launch now
    1. Ask yourself if you had to launch your company in two weeks, what would you do.
    2. Cut out the fat, start selling and producing and perfect as you go
    3. “the founders of Crate and Barrel didn’t wait to build fancy displays when they opened their first store. They turned over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in and stacked products on top of them.†”
    4. Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 94). Crown Business. Kindle Edition.

  1. Interruptions kill productivity:
    1. It takes a while to get into the zone. fight through the early stages and stay at it until you start really being productive.
    2. Batch similar tasks so your mind can stay in the same “zone”
    3. Kill communication, Go offline, and get stuff done.
  2. Good enough is fine
    1. Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
  3. Quick wins
    1. “Momentum fuels motivation.” – Fried
    2. Without momentum, you’ll go nowhere.
    3. Accomplish lots of small victories which will add up to something big.
      1. It’s also a lot less exhausting that fighting in the trenches to complete a big project
    4. “The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’re going to finish it.”

    1. Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010-03-02). Rework (p. 115). Crown Business. Kindle Edition.
  1. Underdo your competition and do a few things well
    1. an example: The surge in fixed-gear bicycles as apposed to 21 gear bikes
    2. another example: The Flip camera. It’s simple and has a die hard tribe
  2. Ignore the competition and focus on what you can do better.
    1. The competitive landscape is always changing: reacting will just keep you in second place
    2. You can’t out-apple Apple. They redefined the rules, and they are heavily bent in Apple’s favor. Redefine your own niche.
  3. Say no by default
    1. “If I’d listened to customers, I’d have given them a faster horse.” —Henry Ford
    2. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
    3. ING Direct has grown so quickly because it says no to customer requests. It’s lean and does a few things well.
  4. Let your customers outgrow your product
    1. If you cater & adapt constantly to your biggest client and ignore your general customer base – you’re gonna get left high and dry
    2. Be true to a “type” of customer, instead of just one customer with changing needs
  5. Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority
    1. It’s exciting to think about the optimistic potential of a new idea … but give it time and you’ll probably see that it’s not a priority to create revenue.
  6. Be at-home good***
    1. Undersell yourself to the extent that the customer could never have buyer’s remorse.
    2. It’s always amazing when a product works better at home than you expected when purchasing it in the store: (The Apple OS is a great example… at least for me)
  7. Build an audience instead of paying to talk with potential customers
    1. Speak, write, blog, tweet, or whatever you can to share useful information to your target market
    2. Out-teach the competition – if you show your market something useful they may not use your product but they’ll be your fan.
  8. Emulate chefs
    1. Share everything you know … just like Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay & Julia Child.
    2. No one is going to buy an Emeril cookbook, open a restaurant next to him and out do him.  – it takes something more.
  9. Give people behind the scenes access
    1. They actually care what you are doing — it makes them trust you infinitely
  10. Nobody likes plastic flowers
    1. Stop trying to perfect all the time
    2. People like connecting and buying from humans… error making humans
    3. Show your imperfections – character and uniqueness are your best qualities
    4. (Don’t be Gordon Gecko and act like your Ben & Jerri’s …. People like Gecko because he was a jerk and was open about it.)
  11. Focus on Niche Media over the big times
    1. You’re not gonna get a hold of Paul Krugman or someone at the Wall Street Journal
    2. Instead build in your niche base with bloggers and trade publications
    3. Niche sites are also where the big boys look for new stories
  12. Emulate drug dealers
    1. Know your product is so good that you can give a bit a way and know they are gonna keep coming back
    2. This forces you to make something about your product bite-size (we need something like this)
    3. If you can’t give some away and make them come back for more, then your product isn’t good enough
  13. The myth of the overnight sensation
    5. All the big companies are not overnight successes… the media just paints them as darlings. Some grow faster than others, but the real companies that stand the test of time are battered and weathered warriors.
  14. Do it yourself first
    1. Don’t hire anyone to do a job that you haven’t tried first. (this let’s you understand to an extent what’s needed)
    2. You’ll write better job descriptions
    3. You’ll know if you need full-time, part-time or to outsource it
  15. Hire when it hurts
    1. Don’t hire for pleasure
    2. Ask yourself, “instead of hiring a new person, could we just solve it with a system, software or eliminate it?”
    3. Pass on great people — some companies hire just to get great talent off the street. (I’m not saying I’m great,… but this happened to me. I was paid six figures at 21 to be a salesman at an oilfield service company. They then sat me in an office and basically made me a receptionist…. I quit in two months.)
  16. Everybody works
    1. You need a small team that consists of people who will do whatever it takes to get the job done
    2. Delegators tell others what to do and are dead weight for small teams
  17. Hire managers of one – and don’t let location be a factor
    1. Hire people who come up with their own goals and execute them
    2. They don’t need heavy direction and don’t need daily check-ins
  18. Hire the better writer — writing is quickly re-surging as the preferred method of communication (Email, Instant Messaging, Text)
  19. When something bad happens – own it
    1. Tell your customers – because they are going to find out eventually
    2. This way you get to tell them what really happened – and they’ll respect you for it.
    3. Accept responsibility and don’t give the “we’re sorry for how you feel” apology
      1. Actually use words you’d use if you did something in everyday life (i.e. I’m so sorry for all the trouble we caused”
      2. Think about the apology you’d like to hear, and give them that.
  20. Speed of response in service
    1. Respond quickly to customer problems and be real about the solutions
    2. IF you don’t know, say “let me do some research and get back to you”
  21. Take a deep breath
    1. People have knee jerk responses to change — if you ride out the first week of passion and complaint — eventually if your changes are good they’ll recognize it.
    2. (I had this issue with the new Google Analytic’s interface… but it’s steadily growing on me, plus emailing Google is pointless.)
  22. Creating Culture
    1. Culture is the by-product of consistent action — fake culture fades quickly
    2. Don’t try and hire rock stars — instead create an environment that fosters awesomeness.
      1. Hire good people and give them freedom. They’re not 13.
    3. If you treat an employee like a kid, then they’ll will produce childish work.
      1. This creates the boss v worker workplace
      2. Banning employees from youtube and Facebook is pointless. They’ll just fill that time with something else… like finding a proxy site to get back on those sites.
  23. Stop creating hypothetical what if problems. Problems like “Will it scale?”
    1. It’s hard enough to launch a product or service
    2. Focus on solving problems when they arise
    3. An advantage to being small is that you can change, and change quickly.
  24. Send people home at 5
    1. “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.”
    2. Demand quality hours over quantity of hours
  25. Sound like you
    1. People want to know the truth about your company
    2. Stop playing professional… it doesn’t work
    3. Direct marketing copy has proved this. Trust the data and talk to people like you would your friends.
  26. Inspiration is perishable
    1. Ideas are immortal but inspiration is fleeting
    2. When inspiration strikes, grab it and ride it into the ground.
    3. You can get 2 weeks of work done in two hours with enough inspiration.
    5. An example: My friend told me he read ReWork twice last week. Once on the way to his video shoot in Dubai, and once on the way back. I’ve been in a business funk lately, and it inspired me to Re-Pick up this book. I read the entire thing in two hours and made this outline.


Do work, son. And, do it now.

- Alex