Book Notes – Rework

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

My Notes:

37 Signals book




“Make a dent in the universe”
– Want customers to say “this makes my life better”
– Don’t wait for someone else to make the change you want to see happen.

“Scratch your own itch”
– Work on something you need the solution to. That way you can answer all the “how should this work” questions.

“Start making something”
– An idea means nothing without action.

“Making the call is making progress”
– Decisions are progress
– Don’t delay. You’ll get going faster if you just make a decision and run with it.
– You can build on top of decisions, you can’t build on top of indecision.

“You need less than you think”
– What can you get by without? Just get going with the least you can.

“Embrace constraints”
– Limited resources force you to be creative.
– The less you have and do, the more efficient you can be.

“Build half a product, not a half-assed product”
– Cut things out to make the whole better.
– Including “good” brings the quality down from “great”.
– Allocate the resources to the best parts.

“Start at the epicenter”
– Start with the stuff you HAVE to do.
– “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?”
– A hotdog stand isn’t a hotdog stand without hotdogs.
– Which part of your equation can’t be removed?
– If you can continue to get by without that thing, then it’s not the epicenter.
– When you find it, focus all your energy on making it the best it can be.
– Everything else depends on that foundation.

“Be a curator”
– Leave stuff out to make the other stuff better.
– Have good reasons for leaving the stuff in that you do leave in.

“Throw less at the problem”
– If things are going poorly, cut back resources. DON’T add more (as is the tendency…”add more programmers!!!”)
– – tighter deadline
– – fewer resources
– – force focus
– – less budget

“Focus on what won’t change”
– What people will want today and ten years from now.
– fast (or free) shipping, great selection, friendly return policies,
– affordable prices, reliability, affordability, practicality,
– speed, simplicity, ease of use, clarity.
– fashion fades, substance stays.

“Ignore the details early on”
– Do early designs with a sharpie marker, not a pen.
– Broad strokes before focusing on details.

“Get it out there”
– Launch now
– Put off anything you don’t need for Launch. You may find you never need it.

“Draw a line in the sand”
– Why are you doing what you’re doing?
– Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product.
– A strong stand attracts superfans.
– If no one’s upset by what you say, then you are probably not pushing hard enough. And you’re boring.
– And you have to LIVE it. Don’t just write it down.

“You can’t make just one thing”
– Sell your by-products
– What do you create just by making your stuff?
– how-to videos/posts
– customer lists
– pieces of software
– etc.

“Reasons to quit”
– 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?
– What could you be doing instead?
– Is it really worth it?

“Good enough is fine”
– Find a Judo solution, maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
– Build something that gets the job done, and move on.
– Don’t look for the complicated solution.

“Quick wins”
– Build momentum by getting things done and moving on.
– It will keep you motivated.
– What can we do in two weeks?

“Don’t be a hero”
– Don’t be afraid to quit
– Reassess if something is taking longer than you thought, get someone else’s perspective.

“Make tiny decisions”
– Make effectively temporary decisions
– Attainable goals, build momentum.

“Pour yourself into your product”
– Decommoditize your product
– Competitors can never copy the you in the product

“Pick a fight”
– If you think a competitor sucks, say so.
– Being the anti-_____ is a good way to differentiate yourself.
– Having enemies gives you a great story to to tell customers.

“Underdo your competition”
– Solve the simple problems, and leave the hairy ones to them.
– Don’t shy away from the fact that your products do less.
– Highlight it.
– Sell it as aggressively as competitors.

“Say no by default”
– Get in the habit of saying no.
– Customer is not always right…they may not be your customer.
– Don’t be a jerk, just explain why, and recommend a competitor.
– Be able to say “I think you’ll love it, because I love it.”

“Let your customers outgrow you”
– You can’t be everything to everyone.
– Be true to a *type* of customer more than a specific individual customer
– Don’t change the product to suit advanced customers and alienate new customers

“Be at-home good”
– Suprirse people in their house, not just in the store
– Like free expedited shipping after they order or on their first order.
– Under promise and over deliver.
– Longterm relationship, not one night stand.

“Build an audience”
– Get people coming to you.
– Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos.

“Don’t out-spend, out-teach”
– Teaching builds a stronger bond between your customer and you.
– Just pandering to them isn’t going to beat out the competition.
– No hype.
– What can you tell the world about what you do that is informative, educational, and promotional?
– Go behind the scenes and show people how things work.
– Letting people behind the curtain creates a bond.

“Nobody likes plastic flowers”
– Be honest and don’t hide your flaws.
– Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize.
– Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.
– Show the latest version of what you’re working on even if it’s not done yet.

“The myth of the overnight sensation”
– It takes time to be an overnight sensation
– Seek slow and measured growth.

“Own your bad news”
– When something goes wrong, someone is going to know.
– Tell it first to get your version as the defacto
– And even if they wouldn’t have found out, you give them confidence in you.

“Decisions are temporary”
– Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet.
– Try something out if it does work now…even if it doesn’t look like it will work in the future and won’t scale.

“4 letter business words, you should not use”
– Need, Must, Can’t, Easy, Just, Only, and Fast.
– Generally lead to minimalizing someone else’s contribution.

“Inspiration is perishable”
– If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now.
– You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it.


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