Tony Wolski

ReWork - Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I’ve read this book twice now. I love books that offer ‘uncommon sense’ approaches; alternative ways to look at and solve problems. This is one of them. In ReWork, Jason Fried and DHH debunk the common view that you have to grow and get big to be successful. You don’t. You can stay small and build the business you want, the way you want, and ignore the ‘common nonsense’. The thoughts in this book have shown me an alternative blueprint for creating a business. They’re thoughts that I’ll revisit again and again in the future. I highly recommend this book, and many of their blog posts on Signal v. Noise

My notes

Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses, and your strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about htem as much. Thye just aren’t worth the stress.

It’s OK to wing it. Just get on the plane and go. You can pick up a nicer shirt, shaving cream, and a toothbrush once you get there.

premature hiring is the death of mony companies.

Ramping up doesn’t have to be your goal. And we’re not talking just about hte number of employees you have either. It’s also true for expenses, rent, IT infrastructure, furniture, etc.

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.

When you put off decisions, they pile up. And piles end up ignored, dealt with in haste, or thrown out. As a result, the individual problems in those piles stay unresolved.

Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s descide on it.” Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.

It’s tempting for people to obsess over tools instead of what they’re going to do with those tools.

But you just don’t need the best gear in the world to be good.

Why are you doing this? Ever find yourself working on something without knowing exactly why? Someone just told you to do it. It’s pretty common, actually. That’s why it’s important to ask why you’re working on __.

A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions.

Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane solutions. That means there’s no glamorous work. You don’t get to show off your amazing skills. You just build something that gets the job done and then move on. This approach may not earn you oohs and aahs, but it lets you get on with it.

When your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders, it loves to feed on less demanding tasks. Like reading yet another article about stuff that doesn’t matter.

How should you keep track of what customers want? Don’t. Listen, but then forget what people said. Seriously. There’s no need for a spreadsheet, database, or filing system. The requests that really matter are the ones you’ll hear over and over. After a while, you won’t be able to forget them. Your customers will be your memory. They’ll keep reminding you. They’ll show you which things you truly need to worry about.

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.

So why do you know these few better than others? Because they share everything they know. They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows. (Referring to famous chefs).

They want to know how and why other people make decisions.

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.

Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to sound and how you’re supposed to act. Show the world what you’re really like, warts and all.

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. My note: This is the way you should blog. We read about people who seem to have it all mastered, but we never hear about how they fail. Write about where you’re headed, and the complete journey there, failings, warts and all.

Just as you cannot not communicate, you cannot not market: Every time you answer the phone, it’s marketing. Every time you send an e-mail, it’s marketing. Every time someone uses your product, it’s marketing. Every word you write on your Web site is marketing. If you build software, every error message is marketing. If you’re in the restaurant business, the after-dinner mint is marketing. If you’re in the retail business, the checkout counter is marketing. If you’re in a service business, your invoice is marketing.

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 individual events. It’s the sum total of everything you do.

NEVER HIRE ANYONE to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.

Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain. Always ask yourself: What if we don’t hire anyone? Is that extra work that’s burdening us really necessary? Can we solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead? What if we just don’t do it?

There are always new faces around, so everyone is unfailingly polite. Everyone tries to avoid any conflict or drama. No one says, “This idea sucks.” People appease instead of challenge. And that appeasement is what gets companies into trouble. You need to be able to tell people when they’re full of crap. If that doesn’t happen, you start churning out something that doesn’t offend anyone but also doesn’t make anyone fall in love.

Delegators are dead weight for a small team. They clog the pipes for others by coming up with busywork. And when they run out of work to assign, they make up more—regardless of whether it needs to be done.

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.

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit.

Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

Getting back to people quickly is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to customer service.

Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture.

Decisions are temporary

Optimize for now and worry about the future later.

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.

But there’s a ton of untapped potential trapped under lame policies, poor direction, and stifling bureaucracies. Cut the crap and you’ll find that people are waiting to do great work. They just need to be given the chance.

Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. They’re a result of giving people the privacy, workspace, and tools they deserve.

When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers. You create a boss-versus-worker relationship that screams, “I don’t trust you.”

You don’t need more hours; you need better hours.

Policies are organizational scar tissue. They are codified overreactions to situations that are unlikely to happen again. They are collective punishment for the misdeeds of an individual. This is how bureaucracies are born. No one sets out to create a bureaucracy. They sneak up on companies slowly. They are created one policy—one scar—at a time.