I picked up this book because I want to maintain the mindset of efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Reading about such ideas helps me do so. Due to the structure of Rework, my review follows the format below.
Chapter title - quote last paragraph - personal thoughts.
The cited material is the authors alone and I do not claim any ownership over it. Any mistakes in the text is a product of my typing and are not present within the book.
Review of Rework
If you are interested in learning more about working for yourself, I believe this is a quality book to borrow from the library and read. Rework is not something I would recommend purchasing. It’s a quick and approachable read that does provide a lot of food for thought.
The book is a series of one to two pages segments that convey the authors’ thoughts on a particular idea. The sections fall under broader categories such as “Go”. Most of the new concepts and ideas I found within Rework came from content within the “Promotion” and “Hiring” sections.
What the structure Rework does not provide is a cohesive theme or message that ties together all the elements. While reading Rework, I kept reaching for that board directive of what all these disparate ideas build too. Below is my interpretation of the big picture take away from Rework.
You can start a business by focusing on creating something that addresses a need you have personally. Work to make the solution to that need as simple and straightforward as possible. With the solution established, keep your business as small as it can be while still providing the necessary services. By doing so, you will have ownership and understanding of all elements of the company, and this can offer you well being and meaning in your personal life. Because you understand your business better than anyone else, believe in your vision of what it should be, first and foremost. This understanding comes from direct experience, not planning. Rely on your experiences to develop your business in a manner that reflects the actual needs of your audience and respects your comment to your work.
My last note on the text is that the authors of this book run a technology company. While most of what they speak to will apply to any business, there are some elements, particular how to scale and grow production, that would be difficult to apply to business built on labor or physical products.
I can’t say I’m super excited about the book after the tone of the introduction. The general message seems to be that you don’t need to follow the established form to achieve success; look at us.
The new reality
You don’t have to work miserable 60/80/100-hour weeks to make it work. 10-40 hours a week is plenty. You don’t have to deplete your life savings or take on a boatload of risk. Starting a business on the side while keeping your day job can provide all the cash flow you need. You don’t even need an office. Today you can work from home or collaborate with people you’ve never met who live thousands of miles away.
A statement that the web-based world is altering what is required to run a business. The assumption is that the internet is making a lot of elements easier.
Ignore the real world
The real world isn’t a place; it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.
Your experience is responsible for your understanding and assumptions. Pick what right for you and try it.
Learning from mistakes is overrated
That shouldn’t be a surprise: It’s exactly how nature works. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building upon what worked. So should you.
Not wholely bought into this logic, though it’s just another way of saying focus in on what is working well. Spend your time and energy on those elements.
Planning is Guessing
Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.
Stay dynamic and be willing to change and adapt as the change occurs around you. Plans can be beneficial for organizing ideas, but the active feedback of what is working at the moment should be what drives actions, not plans.
Don’t be insecure about aiming to be a small business. Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small, should be proud.
Grow comes at a cost. It’s always worth evaluating the effects of projected growth and understanding when enough is enough. The point made here is that the smaller the business, the more agile it is. Staying small is a means of avoiding some of the primary stressors of an organization(meetings, boards, external funders).
Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.
I strongly agree with the message underneath this notion of workaholism. Work smart, not long. Focusing on efficiency and generating reproducible work is more important than working countless hours.
Enough with “entrepreneurs.”
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. You don’t need a MBA, a Certificate, a fancy suit, a briefcase, or an above-average tolerance for risk. You just need an idea, a tough of confidence, and a push to get started.
I appreciate the sentiment here. The authors are trying to make the reader believe that starting a business is something that anyone can do. You don’t need to fit the form you need to create a successful company.
Make a dent in the universe
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.
If you start a business, make sure it is something that gives you a sense of fulfillment and identity. Doing so allows you to builds a sense of passion and commitment, which will help you commit the time to make it work.
Scratch your own itch
Best of all, this “solve your own problem” approach lets you fall in love with what you’re making. You know the problem and the value of its solution intimately. There’s no substitute for that. After all, you’ll (hopefully) be working on this for years to come. Maybe even the rest of your life. It better be something you really care about.
Solve your own problem is great advice. Start a business in something you have a lot of personal experience doing. The goal is that through the knowledge you have acquired, you can then understand the gaps and know how best to fix them. You are creating a sell-able product that you also want to use.
Start making something
Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The original pitch idea is such a small part of a business that it’s almost negligible. the real question is how well you execute.
I heard a very similar notion to this during an author talk. Individuals are hesitant to talk about their ideas because they do not want them stolen. The idea is the simple part of making something worthwhile. Converting that idea to something tangible is the hard part. If you believe in the idea, put effort into making it into something real.
No time is no excuse
Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too young or old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen.
There will always be a reason not to do it, but that should not stop you. If you move past the idea stage to something more tangible, then you can start to understand if this is something you want to invest your time in or not. There needs to be some experience to based this decision on, not just ideas.
Draw a line in the sand
When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.
It’s imperative to understand some conditions of your business. What does it do, what does it not do? Having more distinct parameters on what your company does will allow you to focus on the essential elements and quickly dismiss the aspects that don’t matter.
Mission statement impossible
Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down. It’s about believing it and living it.
I’m a massive fan of mission statements, but yes they need to be good. The mission should not rely on an individual but should be felt by all involved. Often it feels like mission statements are just written to sound good and are not actionable.
Outside money is Plan Z
It’s just not worth it. We hear over and over from business owners who have gone down this road and regret it. They usually give a variation on the investment-hangover story: First, you get that quick investment buzz. But then you start having meetings with you investors and/or board of directors, and you’re like, “Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?” Now someone else is calling the shots.
By relying on outside money, you give up a lot of the perspective/identity of the business. Avoiding that type of external pressure is probably one of the motivators for starting your own business in the first place.
You need less then you think
There’s nothing wrong with being frugal. When we launched our first product, we did it on the cheap. We didn’t get our own office, we shared space with another company. We didn’t get a bank of servers; we had only one. We didn’t advertise; we promoted by sharing our experience online. We didn’t hire someone to answer customer e-mails; the company founder answered them himself. And everything worked out just fine.
It’s worth your time to understand what is the minimum needed to get started. Making do with the necessities is a bit of the theme in the book. Just start, try, do it with what you have currently and see what happens.
Start a business, not a startup
So don’t use the idea of a startup as a crutch. Instead, start an actual business. Actual businesses have to deal with actual things like bills and payroll. Actual businesses worry about profit from day one. Actual businesses don’t mask deep problems by saying, “it’s OK, we’re a startup.” Act like an actual business and you’ll have a much better shot at succeeding.
Set your mind on the thing you want. If you want a sustainable business, that needs to be the focus from the start. In my line of work as a soft funded scientist, we act probably much closer to a startup. I don’t think there is an issue with that, just necessary to acknowledge what it is.
Building to flip is building to flop
Don’t be that guy. If you do manage to get a good thing going, keep it going. Good things don’t come around that often. Don’t let your business be the one that got away.
Creating a sustainable business can brings value and purpose to your life. As such, they do not recommend selling out. While there is a lot to take into consideration with this type of decision, I do strongly agree with the notion that work provides meaning and purpose. These are life qualities that are difficult to quantify, and hence are often undervalued.
Huge organizations can take years to pivot. They talk instead of act. They meet instead of do. But if you keep your mass low, you can quickly change anything: your entire business model, product, feature set, and/or marketing message. You can make mistakes and fix them quickly. You can change your priorities, product mix, or focus. And most important, you can change your mind.
Place a value on being small. Small is nimble and small is beautiful. Small companies can do things that large organizations could only dream of accomplishing.
These days, we have more resources and people, but we still force constraints. We make sure to have only one or two people working on a product at a time. And we always keep features to a minimum. Boxing ourselves in this way prevents us from creating bloated products. So before you sing the “not enough” blues, see how far you can get with what you have.
I love this sentiment. Mostly because I have to believe in it to make things work in my daily work. You never have all the information or resources you would like. That is ok. The NASA DEVELOP program helped me view constraints as a positive, not a negative thing.
Build half a product, not a half-assed product.
Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Directors cut good scenes to make a great movie. Musicians drop good tracks to make a great album. Writers eliminate good pages to make a great book. We cut this book in half between the next-to-last and final drafts. From 57,000 words to about 27,000 words. Trust us, it’s better for it.
I struggle with this one a bit. Reminds me of the statement, “I wrote a long letter because I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Not creating half-assed work is about focusing on a specific thing. Make that work well and do not push out inferior products.
Start at the epicenter
So figure our your epicenter. Which part of your equation can’t be removed? If you can continue to get by without this thing or that thing, then those things aren’t the epicenter. When you find it, you’ll know. Then focus all your energy on making it the best it can be. Everything else you do depends on that foundation.
Your business should be specific and precise in your actions. Find what is essential and make sure it is most important. Understand what is the root concern or goal is a very applicable lesson in most aspects of life.
Ignore the details early on
Besides, you often can’t recognize the details that matter most until after you start building. That’s when you see what needs more attention. You feel what’s missing. And that’s when you need to pay attention, not sooner.
Ignoring the details early on falls within another consistent theme of the book. Learn from iterations. You will not get it right the first go, so do it early, put it out there, and learn from it. This mindset fits a little more succinctly with digital creations, then it does physical projects. Iterations of physical features require new material and extra resources, not just time.
Making the call is making progress
Long projects zap morale. The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. Make the call, make progress, and get something out now - while you’ve got the motivation and momentum to do so.
I love this sentiment as well. Deciding is not only cathartic but also means your moving toward something. It might not be the right thing, but you can deal with that later on when you need to make a decision. Making the call and moving forward is a skill I would love to get better at.
Be a curator
The owner actually tried the oil and chose to carry it based on its taste. It’s not about packaging, marketing, or price. It’s about quality. He tried it and knew his store had to carry it. That’s the approach you should take too.
I take this sentiment to mean, value the qualitative. Rely on your judgment to understand what is excellent and have that fill the elements of your business.
Throw less at the problem
So do less. Your projects won’t suffer nearly as much as you fear. In fact, there’s a good chance it’ll end up even better. You’ll be forced to make tough calls and sort out what truly matters.
How can you reduce what you do in general? You want a simplified and shortlist of tasks that you perform not a vast list. You need to focus on the core issues and drop the ones that are not.
Focus on what won’t change
Remember, fashion fades away. When you focus on permanent features, you’re in bed with things that never go out of style.
Chancing trends is a sentiment of the get rich quick mentality, which is a personality that does not match well with a sustainable business. You don’t want to follow the thing that will burn out.
Tone is in your fingers
Use whatever you’ve got already or can afford cheaply. Then go. It’s not the gear that matters. It’s playing what you’ve got as well as you can. Your tone is in your fingers.
Succes and skill do not come from the gear, though we love to focus on the gear. Learn to do what you need to do with what you have. The tools don’t make great things, people do.
Sell your by-products
Software companies don’t usually think about writing books. Bands don’t usually think about filming the recording process. Car manufacturers don’t usually think about selling charcoal. There’s probably something you haven’t thought about that you could sell too.
Focusing on by-products is somewhat counter-intuitive to the “stay focused on the essential” sentiment of this book, but it’s just a time and place idea. Be creative about the secondary elements you are generating through the production of your primary content. Most likely, the secondary by-products are experience-based and evaluate if they can become a marketable product.
Don’t mistake this approach for skimping on quality, either. You still want to make something great. This approach just recognizes that the best way to get there is through iterations. Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.
If you start, you will learn from it. Doing is better than planning. Starting something without understanding what all is needed is a little bit of a risky sentiment but it is motivational.
Illusion of agreement
That’s the path we all should take. Get the chisel out and start making something real. Anything else is just a distraction.
Creating something real is good advice. We all perceive abstract topics in different ways. The best route to make the discussion about something is to make it tangible and real. In doing so, your decision is coming from primary experience. If you can not present your idea as something other then text, then it might not be worth talking about yet.
Reasons to Quit
Also, don’t be timid about your conclusions. Some time abandoning what you’re working on is the right move, even if you’ve already put in a lot of effort. Don’t throw good time after bad work.
It is a good thing to quit while your ahead. Implementing this sentiment is challenging because we don’t like that sense of lost time. Still, something to keep in mind. You should use logic, not emotion to decide when to quit.
Interruption is the enemy of productivity
Your day is under siege by interruptions. It’s on you to fight back.
I a hundred percent agree with this sentiment. Having consistent time to work on something is the best method for actually getting things done.
Avoiding interruptions is the bread and butter of the Deep Work, a book that has been very influential on my perspective on productivity. From my experience, long segments of focused work are essential to producing solutions to challenging problems.
Meetings are toxic
If you decide you absolutely must get together, try to make your meeting a productive one by sticking to these simple rules: 1. Set a timer. When it rings, meeting’s over. Period. 2. Invite as few people as possible. 3. Always have a clear agenda. 4. Begin with a specific problem.
I appreciated this surprisingly unique take on why meetings are bad. It rests on the notion that most discussions in a meeting are about intangible processes. Planning, future events, or ideas, all of which are not primary experiences; hence, they will be perceived differently by everyone present.
I try to avoid scheduled meetings, but I like to look at them as social events, not productive events. Changing my perspective on why I am in this meeting allows them to be somewhat enjoyable.
Good enough is fine
When good enough gets the job done, go for it. It’s way better than wasting resources or, even worse, doing nothing because you can’t afford the complex solution. And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later.
While somewhat contradictory in its presentation, I believe the message here look to the simple route that you know will work. There has to be a good reason to explore new potentials if one that works is already in play. I worry about this because it seems that it could build a lot of complacencies. Effectively, not exploring new options detracts from the importance of learning.
So ask yourself, “What can we do in two weeks?” And then do it. Get it out there and let people use it, taste it, play it, or whatever. The quicker it’s in the hands of customers, the better off you’ll be.
Break big tasks into small ones and push those out quick. Value feedback on the actual element over the ideas in your head.
Don’t be a hero
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.
You need to be willing to accept failure and move on. Somethings you invest time in will not pan out. Don’t let those become the focus of your attention, drop them and look to something that is working well.
Go to sleep
These are just some of the costs you incur when not getting enough sleep. Yet some people still develop a masochistic sense of honor about sleep deprivation. They even brag about how tired they are. Don’t be impressed. It’ll come back to bite them in the ass.
Could this work as justification for showing up late; “I did not want to be sleep-deprived because it reduces my productivity”. Seems reasonable to me, not sure how the boss would take it.
Your estimates suck
Keep breaking your time frames down into smaller chunks. Instead of guesstimating at tasks that take thirty hours or more, break them down into more realistic six-to-ten hour chunks. Then go one step at a time.
Devaluing your ability to produce estimates is a significant change in convention around decision making. Typically we want plans and goals with distinct time frames. That said we generally underestimate the time it takes to do something. As a result, we always fall behind our estimates. Working around this involves recording how long it takes to do a task. Then using that data to produces an estimate for a similar task. Rather than estimate something three weeks out, make it a goal, and establish a task structure that leads to that goal. Realistically I want to be able to schedule one day in advance well. That’s about it.
Long list don’t get done
Instead, prioritize visually. Put the most important thing at the top. When you’re down with that, the next thing on the list becomes the next most important thing to do at a time. And that’s enough.
Again this fits in well the goals / tasks structure I’m using. You define priorities for the week and align your task to meet those priorities. Each task can have sub-task, but your focus is not so much on all the unique elements but the few distinct priorities for the week.
Make tiny decisions
Attainable goals like that are the best ones to have. Ones you can actually accomplish and build on. You get to say, “We nailed it. Done!” Then you get going on the next one. That’s a lot more satisfying than some pie-in-the-sky fantasy goal you never meet.
Break big elements down into smaller and smaller pieces that are easily reachable. Mostly this seems like a motivation technique, don’t get caught up on tasks that won’t get done that day.
How do you know if you’re copying someone? If someone else is doing the bulk of the work, you’re copying. Be influenced, but don’t steal.
The big message here is that you need to own your work in order to push it forward. If you just copy someone else your generally a step behind and you will not understand the product as well as those that created it.
Decommoditize your product
Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.
You should have a high degree of ownership over the items you make. Do doing so your ingrain that understanding and knowledge into yourself. It will be a part of how you talk about your processes and ideas.
Pick a fight
Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers, too. Taking a stand always stands out. People get stoked by conflict. They take sides. Passions are ignited. And that’s a good way to get people to take notice.
Picking a fight requires a reasonable degree of balance. Still, conflict is one of the best sources of narrative. I don’t believe that everyone gets stoked over organizations saying another organization’s stuff is not as good, but a lot of people probably do. Creating that conflict-driven narrative leads to good buy-in from customers. Think about rival sports teams.
Underdo your competition
Don’t shy away from the fact that your product or service does less. Highlight it. Be proud of it. Sell it as aggressively as competitors sell their extensive feature lists.
A common theme of the text is creating a very simple and easy to use product. This sentiment speaks to that ideal. Don’t go for complexity.
Who cares what they’re doing?
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. Even if you wind up losing, it’s better to go down fighting for what you believe in instead of just imitating others.
Your business is part of your self-identity and it not worth trying to chase after what someone else is doing. You should focus first on what you do and how you can maintain doing that well.
Say no by default
Your goal is to make sure your product stays right for you. You’re the one who has to believe in it most. That way, you can say, “I think you’ll love it because I love it.”
Apply tact but understand that it is okay and often beneficial to say no to some aspects of work and tasks or ideas that are passed along to you. Limit what it is you do so that you can focus on the essential elements of your work.
Let your customers outgrow you
People and situations change. You can’t be everything to everyone. Companies need to be true to a type of customer more than a specific individual customer with changing needs.
You should be that person shaping the direction of your work. Do not let a significant customer shift what it is you do or why you do it. Keep your product simple. Most people need simple products. A select few need very complex ones.
Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority
So let your latest grand ideas cool off for a while first. By all means, have as many great ideas as you can. Just don’t act in the heat of the moment. Write them down and park them for a few days. Then, evaluate their actual priority with a calm mind.
Having new ideas and running with them is a great feeling and is something we all probably enjoy doing. Deciding to pick up a new process should be a logical choice, not an emotional one. Giving yourself time to evaluate the process allows for the emotions to simmer down and logic to step in. be the first step before engaging with a new priority.
Be at-home good
This is true for advertising as it is for in-store packaging or displays. We’ve all seen a TV ad for some “revolutionary” gadget that will change your life. But when the actual product arrives in the mail, it turns out to be a disappointment. In-media good isn’t nearly as important as at-home good. You can’t paint over a bad experience with good advertising or marketing.
The authors do not put a lot of significance in marketing. Instead, they suggest creating a product that works well, not one that is flashy. Sell something that provides quality experiences, not immediately exciting ones.
Don’t write it down
If there’s a request that you keep forgetting, that’s a sign that it isn’t very important. The really important stuff doesn’t go away.
An interesting point that you should focus on trends in the feedback and not the specific elements of each piece of feedback. I’m not sure if this is the best route, but I guess that largely depends on how often you receive feedback.
These early days of obscurity are something you’ll miss later on, when you’re really under the microscope. Now’s the time to take risks without worrying about embarrassing yourself.
When you are small, it is easy to change. If you get big, you lose that freedom. So appreciate the time when very few know what you are doing and do not rush into trying to make your self very public quickly.
Build an audience
So build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos - whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience. Then when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening.
I love this advice. Many people seek information. If your skilled at what you can do that information will be of interest to others. Adapting the idea that sharing information will provide you a following of individuals that will speak about your work to others. Rely on the audience instead of advertisements
Out teach your competition
Teaching is something individuals and small companies can do that bigger competitors can’t. 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 are obsessed with secrecy. Everything at those places has to get filtered through a lawyer and go through layers of red tape. Teaching is your chance to outmaneuver them.
Teaching is a tool that will allow you to build an audience. It’s something you can do on your own and requires a lot of ownership over so you appear genuine.
So emulate famous chefs. They cook, so they write cookbooks. What do you do? What are your “recipies”? What’s your “cookbook”? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional? This book is our cookbook. What’s yours?
I guess this is saying you don’t get into the spotlight by just being the best person at the job. You get there by being great and giving others something to hold on to. You need an audience to be famous. To reach an audience, you need to provide them with something to follow.
Go behind the scenes
Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them. They’ll feel a bond with you and see you as human beings instead of a faceless company. They’ll see the sweat and effort that goes into what you sell. They’ll develop a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for what you do.
Letting people see what it is you do helps them develop an image of you as an individual, a person just like them. It gives them more reason to connect and understand what you provide them and why.
Nobody likes plastic flowers
So talk like you really talk. Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss. Be upfront about your shortcomings. Show the latest version of what you’re working on, even if you’re not done yet. It’s OK if it’s not perfect. You might not seem as professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine.
Do not be afraid of being yourself. We associate specific professional roles with certain physical appearance. I agree with the authors; I’d prefer genuine over contrived. It’s not clear how many other folks would follow that believe. How many people are willing to move past their first impressions of an individual.?
Press releases are spam
Instead, call someone. Write a personal note. If you read a story about a similar company or product, contact the journalist who wrote it. Pitch her with some passion, some interest, some life. Do something meaningful. Be remarkable. Stand out. Be unforgettable. That’s how you’ll get the best coverage.
Your company should value meaningful interactions with a few over weak interactions with many. Going to someone with a will to talk with them seems much more efficient than just casting a wide net and hoping for a bite.
Forget about the Wall Street Journal
We’ve been written up in big mainstream publications like Wired and Time, but we’ve found that we actually get more hits when we’re profiled on sites like Daring Fireball, a site for MAc nerds, or Lifehacker, a productivity site. Links from these places result in notable spikes in our traffic and sales. Articles in big-time publications are nice, but they don’t result in the same level of direct, instant activity.
Specialization suits the age of the internet very well. Your product likely will mean a lot to some people and pretty much nothing to others. So it’s best to target those niche markets where interest in more contagious than the names that everyone knows.
Drug dealers get it right
Don’t be afraid to give a little away for free - as long as you’ve got something else to sell. Be confident in what your’re offering. You should know that people will come back for more. If you’re not confident about that, you haven’t created a strong enough product.
All the software I currently pay for I picked up because of the free trial. From that, I found the product was worth the price. It’s hard to imagine paying for something outright before using it some; there are too many competing options. So yes, provide samples once you have something more to sell.
Marketing is not a department
Recognize that all of these little things are more important than choosing which piece of swag to throw into a conference goodie bag. Marketing isn’t just a few individuals events. It’s the sum total of everything you do.
Considering all people as part of your marketing seems a much more holistic view of how people look at your company. We expect marketing to define the tone of the organization, but it is often just the snare that gets people looking at what you offer. Once someone is using your product, it is the experiences that they have with the features and peoples of the organization that define their personal view of the organization.
The myth of the overnight sensation
Start building your audience today. Start getting people interested in what you have to say. And then keep at it. In a few years, you too will get to chuckle when people discuss your “overnight” success.
Crushing the dreams of all those that want to get rich quick. Success is built, not found. It still requires hard work, time, and lots of persistence. If you want it, you have to get there one step at a time.
Do it yourself first
Plus, you should want to be intimately involved in all aspects of your business. Otherwise you’ll wind up in the dark, putting your fate solely in the hands of others. That’s dangerous.
I often feel that my supervisors could not do much of my daily work. There is a reality to this just based on how specialized the work that I do is. But that disconnect does lead to challenges on both sides. How does your boss understand if you are doing your job well? How do you get your boss to understand the value of the work you do, without the shared experience? A problematic puzzle for which I do not have an answer.
Hire when it hurts
The right time to hire is when there’s more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time. There should be things you can’t do anymore. You should notice the quality level slipping. that’s when your’re hurting. And that’s when it’s time to hire, not earlier.
Expanding and growing the number of people that works for you should be a last resort, not a given.
Pass on great people
Great has nothing to do with it. If you don’t need someone, you don’t need someone.
Hire out of need alone. You have to be ok with perceived missed opportunities of not being able to bring someone on board. If you hire someone and they don’t have meaningful work to do, they will likely leave.
Strangers at a cocktail party
So higher slowly. It’s the only way to avoid winding up at a cocktail party of strangers.
You should higher people you know because they are less likely to be over-polite. Conservations tend to be guarded when meeting someone for the first time. Your business will work best when everyone feels like they can speak freely, which comes from being comfortable around people. The longer you have known the individual, the quicker you can start speaking openly.
Resumes are ridiculous
Trust your gut reaction. If the first paragraph sucks, the second has to work that much harder. If there’s no hook in the first three, it’s unlikely there’s a match there. On the other hand, if your gut is telling you there’s a chance at a real match, then move on to the interview stage.
Resumes are ridiculous is another piece of advice that goes against conventional wisdom, and I have to say I agree with them. Resumes do showcase experience, but what does that experience mean. It’s hard to understand that from the bullet list of accomplishments what went into making that happen. A cover letter is someone’s voice. You can tell a lot more from how someone writes paragraphs then how they bullet points. I also really like relying on the letter of recommendation when trying to understand the character of an applicant. The reality is that a resume is only the quantifiable, and it’s tough to quantify a person.
Years of irrelevance
How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.
The authors claim that after 6 months an individual has learned about as much a someone doing the same job for six years. Saying that years of experience is not significant seems to be a very overgeneralized statement, but I can see the application for specific jobs.
Forget about formal education
Bottom line: The pool of great candidates is far bigger than just people who completed college with a stellar GPA. Consider dropouts, people who had low GPAs, community-college students, and even those who just went to high school.
Don’t hire someone just because they went to a specific school. Education is part of the individual’s experience. What is more important is what has that individual done with their experience. This is specifically relevant in fields that evolve rapidly. t
Delegators love to pull people into meetings, too. In fact, meetings are a delegator’s best friend. That’s where he gets to seem important. Meanwhile, everyone else who attends is pulled away from getting real work done.
Every person in the organization should actively contribute to selling the companies products. If you grow to the point where people can work off the efforts of others, you might be too big.
Hire managers of one
You want someone who’s capable of building something from scratch and seeing it through. Finding these people frees the rest of your team to work more and manage less.
Look for individuals who do not need much direct attention. Let them pick their tasks and the routes to get there. Giving them autonomy also give you more time.
Hire great writers
Writing is making a comeback all over our society. Look at how much people e-mail and text-message now rather than talk on the phone. Look at how much communication happens via instant messaging an blogging. Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.
A consistent goal of mine is to write more. To write, is to communicate. It’s part of why I am starting taking note-taking so seriously. I do think writing is just one of many communication skills worth evaluating. As a blanket statement, writing is probably the most common form of communication for all positions.
The best are everywhere
Geography just doesn’t matter anymore. Hire the best talent, regardless of where it is.
Geography does not matter because the authors are not in a field that relies on physical labor. The internet has closed the space between coworkers. It allows people to engage in creating elements together regardless of there nearness. That said remote work is unlikely to provide a comparable sense of community or identity as work that allows for the direct engagement of individuals in a shared space.
Cessna, the airplane manufacturer, has a role=playing exercise for prospective mangers that simulates the day of an executive. Candidates work through memos, deal with (phony) irate customers, and handle other problems. Cessna has hired more than a hundred people using this simulation.
There is only so much you can pull from an interview. If you can make it work, try to test a person or hire them on for a small project before making a more significant commitment to them.
Own your bad news
Here are some tips on how you can own the story: - The message should come from the top. The highest-ranking person available should take control in a forceful way. - Spread the message far and wide. Use whatever megaphone you have. Don’t try to sweep it under the rug. - “no comment” is not an option. - Aplogize the way a real person would and explain what happened in detail. - Honestly be concerned about the fate of your customers -then prove it.
There is no use in expecting something to blow over unnoticed or trying to cover something up. It’s best to be the person who gets to tell the story of what happened rather than let someone else take the mic.
Speed changes everything
It’s especially true if you offer a personal response. Customers are so used to canned answers, you can really differentiate yourself by answering thoughtfully and showing that you’re listing. And even if you don’t have a perfect answer, say something. “Let me do some resaerch and get back to you” can work wonders.
Responding quickly is always the best opinion for helping customers understand that you are making their issue a priority.
How to say you’re sorry
Keep in mind that you can’t apologize your way out of being an ass. Even the best apology won’t rescue you if you haven’t earned people’s trust. Everything you do before things go wrong matters far more than the actual words you use to apologize. If you’ve built rapport with customers, they’ll cut you some slack and trust you when you say you’re sorry.
You need to have a rapport with the individual you are apologizing to in order to have an effective apology.
Put everyone on the front lines
Maybe you think you don’t have time to interact with customers. Then make time. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark still answers support e-mails today(often within minutes). He also deletes racist comments from the site’s discussion boards and pesters New Your City Realtors who post apartments for rent that don’t exist. If he can devote this kind of attention to customer service, you can too.
This recommendation makes a lot of sense to me. The front end of a business is probably the most dynamic place of work. You will have angry customers and a very pleased one. It is the best location for understanding how the product is meeting the needs of your audience. The front end jobs are just as essential as the top-level jobs. Having everyone pitch in at the front end helps with morale and understanding among coworkers. I remember a day when I was working at Great Sand Dunes NP where the superintendent of the park was assisting the maintenance staff clear the restroom facilities because visitation was so high. That is a leader I can stand behind.
Take a deep breath
So when people complain, let things simmer for a while. Let them know you’re listening. Show them you’re aware of what they’re saying. Let them know you understand their discontent. But explain that you’re going to let it go for a while and see what happens. You’ll probably find that people will adjust eventually. They may even wind up liking the change more than the old way, once they get used to it.
People generally do not enjoy change, especially when they have no say in the matter. The result is that many of the complaints that come after a change are more about the fact that something changed not that the change is any better or worst. With this in mind, do react too quickly to issues that arise after a change. If it’s a real problem, they will persist as people deal and start engaging with the new system.
You can’t create a culture
So don’t worry too much about it. Don’t force it. You can’t install a culture. Like a fine scotch, you’ve got to give it time to develop.
Workplace culture is an emergent property of the employees in the workspace. I believe that you can steer or direct the group culture, but because it is an emergent property, it is not something that you can control directly.
Decisions are temporary
The ability to change course is one of the big advantages of being small. Compared with larger competitors, you’re way more capable of making quick, sweeping changes. Big companies just can’t move that fast. So pay attention to today and worry about later when it gets here. Otherwise you’ll waste energy, time, and money, fixating on problems that may never materialize.
Science is a progress report. My co-worker uses this statement a lot, and I find it very fitting. Nothing is going to be perfect. Things will have to change. Have the confidence to make a choice and see it through. If it doesn’t work, change it later. Do not spend time and energy trying to evaluate all the contingencies, address them as they arise.
Skip the rock stars
Rock star environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. They’re a result of giving people the privacy, workspace, and tools they deserve. Great environments show respect for the people who do the work and how they do it.
Providing the environment and resources necessary for people to do their work allows individuals to become great at what they do. You can’t bring in a rockstar employee, or that is to say, the rockstar employee can not exist without the supporting environment.
They’re not thirteen
Then there’s all the money and time you spend policing this stuff. How much does it cost to set up surveillance software? How much time do IT employees waste on monitoring other employees instead of working on a project that’s actually valuable? How much time do you waste writing rule books that never get read? Look at the cost and you quickly realize that failing to trust your employees is awfully expensive.
Don’t heavy handedly restrict distractions for employees at work. Distractions are necessary. It’s a fine line to be sure, but I believe in the sentiment. If I can manage 6 hours of productive work over an 8-hour workday, it is a fantastic day. If the employees have a good position description, you can evaluate them with that metric and not worry too much about if they are also listening to podcasts.
Send people home at 5
As the saying goes, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” You want busy people. People who have a life outside of work. PEople who care about more than one thing. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life - at least not if you want to keep them around for a long time.
The idea here is that if people care about stuff outside of work, they are more likely to be efficient while at work so they can leave and get on with the other stuff they enjoy. A balanced work life mindset to is a better way to promote efficiency in the workplace. If you get busy, you have to stay focus to make everything come together. “Nothing sharpens the mind like a deadline.”
Don’t scar on the first cut
So don’t scar on the first cut. Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again.
The authors make the connection here that policies are at the root of developing a bureaucracy. It is hard to imagine that anybody likes bureaucracy. So don’t issue policies without significant reason. Deal with things and a single term bases. Rules will eventually put take the individuality of the circumstances out of the picture.
Sound like you
And when you’re writing, don’t think about all the people who may read your words. Think of one person. Then write for that one person. Writing for a mob leads to generalities and awkwardness. When you write to a specific target, you’re a lot more likely to hit the mark.
I appreciated this segment a lot. It’s all about supporting the individual and not buying into cultural norms because of what people will expect. Specific individuals are not going to take you as seriously in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt when compared with you in a suit. Still, the appearance is not the lasting quality. The closer you are to being yourself, the more genuine you appear, and that can go a long way in forming the trust between you and your audience.
And these words are especially dangerous when you string them together: “we need to add this feature now. We can’t launch with this feature. Everyone wants it. It’s only one little thing so it will be easy. You should be able to get it in there fast!” Only thirty-six words, but a hundred assumptions. That’s a recipe for disaster.
The words the authors lump into this group are “ need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast. These are all commonly used words that don’t mean anything specific. That is, they are very subjective and are sources of miscommunication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be specific and quantify qualities as best as you can.
ASAP is poison
So reserve your use of emergency language for true emergencies. The kind where there are direct, measurable consequences to inaction. For everything else, chill out.
If everything is a top priority, then nothing is. Save dramatic language for high the few times when stakes are very high.
Inspiration is perishable
Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work
Cherish the moment of inspiration when they come and make something of them. The desire to explore that idea will fade in time, so let it take over your thoughts for a bit to see if there is something more to it.