Learning how to work sounds like a corny pitch for a marketing seminar I never want to attend. However, Rework – a book that has that pitch at its core – is a pleasurable, informative, mind-opening, and dare I say enjoyable read. It is a quick read, which no doubt makes it infinitely more enjoyable for me. In fact, I’m not sure that any other format, especially a long-winded one, would have worked with the subject matter. Rework told you what you needed to know, chapter-by-chapter, and then moved on. I appreciated that. It was like the book knew my time was valuable and that I would rather be playing Madden than reading a book. Well played. For that reason alone, I’ll buy whatever it is selling.
In the business world, failure has become an expected rite of passage … People advise, “Fail early and fail often.”
With so much failure in the air, you can’t help but breathe it in. Don’t inhale. Don’t get fooled by the stats. Otehr people’s failures are just that: other people’s failures.
Planning is guessing
Why don’t we just call plans what they really are: guesses … Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands.
… Give up on the guesswork. Decide what you’re going to do this week, not this year. Figure out the next most important thing and do that. Make decisions right before you do something, not far in advance.
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.
Make a dent in the universe
You want your customers to say, “This makes my life better.” You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice.
Time is no excuse
When you want something bad enough, you make the time – regardless of your other obligations.
A business without a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.
You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. Building to flip is building to flop.
Embrace the idea of having less mass
Mass is increased by …
- Long-term contracts
- Excess staff
- Permanent decisions
- Thick process
- Inventory (physical or mental)
- Hardware, software, and technology lock-ins
- Long-term road maps
- Office politics
“I don’t have enough ___.” Less is a good thing. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.
Writers use constraints to force creativity all the time. Shakespeare reveled in the limitations of sonnets. The Price is Right has more than a hundred games, and each one is based on the question, “How much does this item cost?”
Most of your great ideas won’t seem all that great once you get some perspective, anyway. And if they truly are that fantastic, you can always do them later.
When we start designing something, we sketch out ideas with a big, thick Sharpie marker, instead of a ballpoint pen.
Sell your by-products
Software companies don’t usually think about wriitng books. Bands don’t usually think about filming the recording process. Car manufactureres don’t usually think about selling charcoal. There’s probably something you haven’t thought about that you could sell, too.
Questions to ask to ensure you’re doing work that matters:
- Why are you doing this?
- What problem are you solving?
- Is this actually useful?
- Are you adding value?
- Will this change behavior?
- Is there an easier way? Whenever yo’re working on something, ask, “Is there an easiery way?” You’ll often find this easy way is more than good enough for now. Problems are usually pretty simple. We just imagine that they require hard solutions.
- What could you be doing instead?
- Is it really worth it?
Rules for a productive meeting
- Set a timer. When it rings, meeting’s over. Period.
- Invite as few people as possible.
- Always have a clear agenda.
- Begin with a specific problem.
- Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room. Point to real things and sugest real changes.
- End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.
Keep breaking down your timeframes into smaller chunks. Instead of one twelve-week project, structure it as twelve one-week projects. Instead of guesstimating at tasks that take thirty hours or more, break them down into more realistic six-to-ten-hour chuncks. Then go one step at a time.
Use this time to make mistakes without the whole world hearing about them. Keep tweaking. Work out the kinks. Test random ideas. Try new things. No one knows you, so it’s no big deal if you mess up. Obscurity helps protect your ego and preserve your confidence.
Go behind the scenes
Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business works. Imagine that someone wanted to make a reality show about your business. What would they share? Now stop waiting for someone else and do it yourself.
People are curious about how things are made. It’s why they like factory tours or behind-the-scenes footage on DVDs. They want to see how the sets are built, how the animation is done, how the director cast the film, etc.
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.
Press releases are spam
Decisions are temporary
The decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas, interesting policies, or worthwhile experiments by assuming that whatever you decide now needs to work for years on end. It’s just not so, especially for small business. If circumstances change, your decisions can change.
When you’re on an inspiration high, you can get two weeks of work done in 24 hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.