Rework by Jason Fried

My notes on “Rework” by Jason Fried


Ignore the real world71IuEm6VP9L

  • “That would never work in the real world”. Dont’ believe them. That world may be real for them, but it doesn’t mean you will live in it

Learning from mistakes is overrated

  • You hear that failure build character. People advise, “Fail early and fail often”
  • Failure is not a prerequisite for success.
  • A Harvard Business School study found already-successful entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed again (the success rate for their future companies is 34 percent). But entrepreneurs whose companies failed the first time had almost the same follow-on success rate as people starting a company for the first time: just 23 percent.
  • It’s exactly how nature works. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building upon what worked. So should you.

Planning is guessing

  • Planning is guessing

Why grow?

  • Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Maybe it’s just you and a laptop
  • Grow slow and see what feels right – premature hiring is the death of many companies
  • Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination in itself


  • Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force.
  • 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.

Enough with “entrepreneurs”

  • Instead of entrepreneurs, let’s just call them starters. Anyone who creates a new business is a starter. You don’t need an MBA, a certificate, a fancy suit, a briefcase, or an above-average tolerance for risk. You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.


Make a dent in the universe

  • To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference. That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe. That you’re part of something important.
  • You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice.
  • You should feel an urgency about this too. You don’t have forever. This is your life’s work. Do you want to build just another me-too product or do you want to shake things up? What you do is your legacy.

Scratch your own itch

  • The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use

Start making something

  • Start

No time is no excuse

  • There is always time if you spend it right

Draw a line in the sand

  • Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.
  • A strong stand is how you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they spread the word further, wider, and more passionately than any advertising could.
  • If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too.)

Mission statement impossible

  • Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down. It’s about believing it and living it

Outside money is Plan Z

  • You give up control
  • Cashing out becomes more important than building a quality business
  • Spending other people’s money is addictive
  • It’s usually a bad deal
  • Customers move down the totem pole. You build what investors want instead of what customers want
  • Raising money is incredibly distracting

You need less than you think

  • Great companies start in garages all the time. Yours can too

Start a business, not a startup

  • Anyone who takes a “we’ll figure out how to profit in the future” attitude to business is being ridiculous. That’s like building a rocket ship but starting off by saying, “Let’s pretend gravity doesn’t exist.” A business without a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby. 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.

Building to flip is building to flop

  • You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship. If your whole strategy is based on leaving, chances are you won’t get far in the first place.

Less mass

  • Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now, you’re the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be. From here on out, you’ll start accumulating mass. And the more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction.
  • Huge organizations can take years to pivot. They talk instead of act. They meet instead of do.


Embrace constraints

  • Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. 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.

Build half a product, not a half-assed product

  • Build half a product, not a half-assed product

Start at the epicenter

  • figure out 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.

Ignore the details early on

  • Ignore the details early on

Making the call is making progress

  • Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it.” Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.
  • Decisions are progress. Each one you make is a brick in your foundation. You can’t build on top of “We’ll decide later,” but you can build on top of “Done.”

Be a curator

  • It’s the stuff you leave out that matters

Throw less at the problem

  • You’ll be forced to make tough calls and sort out what truly matters

Focus on what won’t change

  • The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in

Tone is in your fingers

  • People use equipment as a crutch. They’re looking for a shortcut
  • 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

Sell your by-products

  • The lumber industry sells sawdust
  • Henry Ford sold charcoal from wood scraps
  • 37Signals sold the book Getting Real from experience and blog posts

Launch now

  • Put off anything you don’t need for launch. Build the necessities now, worry about the luxuries later. If you really think about it, there’s a whole lot you don’t need on day one.


Illusions of agreement

  • A hundred people can read the same words, but in their heads, they’re imagining a hundred different things
  • So make it real. Get out the chisel and start making something real. Anything else is just a distraction
  • Eg Alaska Airlines built a prototype airport with cardboard boxes

Reasons to quit

  • Is this actually useful? Are you making something useful or just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Cool wears off. Useful never does.
  • Are you adding value? Adding something is easy; adding value is hard. Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers?

Interruption is the enemy of productivity

  • If you’re constantly staying late and working weekends, it’s not because there’s too much work to be done. It’s because you’re not getting enough done at work. And the reason is interruptions.
  • Think about it When do you get most of your work done? If you’re like most people, it’s at night or early in the morning. It’s no coincidence that these are the times when nobody else is around.
  • You can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.
  • When you do collaborate, try to use passive communication tools, like e-mail, that don’t require an instant reply, instead of interruptive ones, like phone calls and face-to-face meetings. That way people can respond when it’s convenient for them, instead of being forced to drop everything right away.

Meetings are toxic

  • The worst interruptions of all are meetings.
  • They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.

Good enough is fine

  • 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 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.

Quick wins

  • Momentum fuels motivation.984
  • The way you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving on to the next thing. No one likes to be stuck on an endless project with no finish line in sight.986
  • To keep your momentum and motivation up, get in the habit of accomplishing small victories along the way. Even a tiny improvement can give you a good jolt of momentum. The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’re going to finish it.

Don’t be a hero

  • For example, let’s say you think a task can be done in two hours. But four hours into it, you’re still only a quarter of the way done. The natural instinct is to think, “But I can’t give up now, I’ve already spent four hours on this!”
  • And sometimes that kind of sheer effort overload works. But is it worth it? Probably not. The task was worth it when you thought it would cost two hours, not sixteen. In those sixteen hours, you could have gotten a bunch of other things done.
  • 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.

Go to sleep

  • Forgoing sleep is a bad idea. You’ll destroy creativity, morale, and attitude.

Your estimates suck

  • We’re all terrible estimators. We think we can guess how long something will take, when we really have no idea. We see everything going according to a best-case scenario, without the delays that inevitably pop up. Reality never sticks to best-case scenarios. That’s why estimates that stretch weeks, months, and years into the future are fantasies. The truth is you just don’t know what’s going to happen that far in advance. How often do you think a quick trip to the grocery store will take only a few minutes and then it winds up taking an hour?
  • The solution: Break the big thing into smaller things. The smaller it is, the easier it is to estimate. You’re probably still going to get it wrong, but you’ll be a lot less wrong than if you estimated a big project. If something takes twice as long as you expected, better to have it be a small project that’s a couple weeks over rather than a long one that’s a couple months over.

Long lists don’t get done

  • Start making smaller to-do lists too. Long lists collect dust. When’s the last time you finished a long list of things? You might have knocked off the first few, but chances are you eventually abandoned it (or blindly checked off items that weren’t really done properly).
  • Long lists are guilt trips. The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it. And at a certain point, you just stop looking at it because it makes you feel bad. Then you stress out and the whole thing turns into a big mess.
  • There’s a better way. Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. For example, break a single list of a hundred items into ten lists of ten items. That means when you finish an item on a list, you’ve completed 10 percent of that list, instead of 1 percent. Yes, you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But now you can look at the small picture and find satisfaction, motivation, and progress. That’s a lot better than staring at the huge picture and being terrified and demoralized.

Make tiny decisions

  • Big decisions are hard to make and hard to change


Don’t copy

  • it’s tempting to try to build a business by being a copycat. That’s a formula for failure, though. The problem with this sort of copying is it skips understanding— and understanding is how you grow.
  • if you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in a passive position. You never lead; you always follow.
  • Be influenced, but don’t steal.

De-commoditise your product

  • Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.

Pick a fight

  • If you think a competitor sucks, say so. When you do that, you’ll find that others who agree with you will rally to your side. Being the anti- ______ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.
  • 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.

Underdo your competition

  • Do less than your competitors to beat them. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing.
  • Fixed-gear bicycles have boomed in popularity, despite being as low-tech as you can get. These bikes have just one gear. Some models don’t have brakes. The advantage: They’re simpler, lighter, cheaper, and don’t require as much maintenance.
  • The Flip wins fans because it only does a few simple things and it does them well. It’s easy and fun to use. It goes places a bigger camera would never go and gets used by people who would never use a fancier camera.

Who cares what they’re doing?

  • It’s a pointless exercise anyway. The competitive landscape changes all the time. Your competitor tomorrow may be completely different from your competitor today. It’s out of your control. What’s the point of worrying about things you can’t control? Focus on yourself instead. What’s going on in here is way more important than what’s going on out there. When you spend time worrying about someone else, you can’t spend that time improving yourself.


Say no by default

  • It’s so easy to say yes. Yes to another feature, yes to an overly optimistic deadline, yes to a mediocre design. Soon, the stack of things you’ve said yes to grows so tall you can’t even see the things you should really be doing. Start getting into the habit of saying no—even to many of your best ideas. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no. But you often wind up regretting saying yes.
  • Making a few vocal customers happy isn’t worth it if it ruins the product for everyone else.
  • It’s better to have people be happy using someone else’s product than disgruntled using yours.

Let your customers outgrow you

  • We’d rather our customers grow out of our products eventually than never be able to grow into them in the first place.
  • Small, simple, basic needs are constant. There’s an endless supply of customers who need exactly that.
  • And there are always more people who are not using your product than people who are. Make sure you make it easy for these people to get on board. That’s where your continued growth potential lies.

Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority

  • Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority

Be at-home good

  • When you create an at-home-good product, you may have to sacrifice a bit of in-store sizzle. That’s OK. You’re aiming for a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand

Don’t write it down

  • How should you keep track of what customers want? Don’t. Listen, but then forget what people said.
  • After a while, you won’t be able to forget them. Your customers will be your memory. They’ll keep reminding you.
  • The really important stuff doesn’t go away.


Welcome obscurity

  • No one know who you are right now. And that’s just fine. Being obsure is a great postion to be in. Use this time to make mistakes without the whole world hearing about them. Keep tweaking. Work out the kinks. Test random ideas.

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 why you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening

Out-teach your competition

  • Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about. Most businesses focus on selling or servicing, but teaching never even occurs to them.

Emulate chefs

  • A recipe is much easier to copy than a business. Shouldn’t that scare Mario Batali? Why would he go on TV and show you how he does what he does? Why would he put all his recipes in cookbooks where anyone can buy and replicate them? Because he knows those recipes and techniques aren’t enough to beat him at his own game. No one’s going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door, and put him out of business. It just doesn’t work like that. Yet this is what many in the business world think will happen if their competitors learn how they do things.

Go behind the scenes

  • Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business works.
  • People are curious about how things are made.
  • Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them

Nobody likes plastic flowers

  • Dont’ be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real

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.

Forget about the Wall Street Journal

  • You’re better off focusing on getting your story into a trade publication or picked up by a niche blogger
  • These guys are actually hungry for fresh meat. They thrive on being tastemakers, finding the new thing, and getting the ball rolling. That’s why many big-time reporters now use these smaller sites to find new stories.

Drug dealers get it right

  • Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand.

Marketing is not a department

  • Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.

The myth of the overnight sensation

  • Start building your audience today. And then keep at it.


Do it yourself first

  • Never hire anyone to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first

Hire when it hurts

  • Don’t hire for pleasure, hire to kill pain.

Pass on great people

  • If you don’t need someone, you don’t need someone

Strangers at a cocktail party

  • Hire a ton of people rapidly and a “strangers at a cocktail party” problem is exactly what you end up with
  • Hire slowly

Resumes are ridiculous

  • We all know resumés are a joke.
  • Check the cover letter. In a cover letter, you get actual communication instead of a list of skills, verbs, and years of irrelevance.

Years of irrelevance

  • It makes sense to go after candidates with six months to a year of experience. It takes that long to internalize the idioms, learn how things work, understand the relevant tools, etc.
  • There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years.

Forget about formal education

  • When you get out of school, you have to unlearn so much of the way they teach you to write there. Some of the misguided lessons you learn in academia
    • The longer a document is, the more it matters.
    • Stiff, formal tone is better than being conversational.
    • Using big words is impressive.
    • You need to write a certain number of words or pages to make a point.
    • The format matters as much (or more) than the content of what you write.
    • It’s no wonder so much business writing winds up dry, wordy, and dripping with nonsense. People are just continuing the bad habits they picked up in school.

Everybody works

  • 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.

Hire managers of one

  • Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them. They don’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check- ins. They do what a manager would do— set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc.—but they do it by themselves and for themselves.
  • Finding these people frees the rest of your team to work more and manage less.

Hire great writers

  • 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. And those are qualities you want in any candidate.

The best are everywhere

  • we’ve found it preferable to not have complete overlap— you get more alone time that way.)
  • Geography just doesn’t matter anymore. Hire the best talent, regardless of where it is.

Test-drive employees

  • Hire them for a mini project


Own your bad news

  • Don’t think you can just sweep it under the rug. You can’t hide anymore
  • People will respect you more if you are open, honest, public and responsive in a crisis

Speed changes everything

  • Don’t be one of those companys that play a recorded message “your call is very important to us”

How to say you’re sorry

  • One of the worst ways to apologies is the non-apology apology

Put everyone on the front lines

  • Everyone on your team should be connected to your customers at lest a few times througout the year

Take a deep breath

  • Negative reactions are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones. In fact, you may hear only negative voices even when the majority of your customers are happy about a change.


You don’t create a culture

  • It happens. Culture is a by-product of consistent behaviour

Decisions are temporary

  • Decisions are temporary

Skip the rock stars

  • Skip the rock stars

They’re not thirteen

  • What do you gain if you ban employees from, say, visiting a social-networking site or watching YouTube while at work? You gain nothing. That time doesn’t magically convert to work. They’ll just find some other diversion.

Send people home at 5

  • As the saying goes, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” You want busy peole. People who have a life outside of work

Don’t scar on the first cut

  • Policies are organisational scar tissue. They are codified overreactions to situations that are unlikely to happen again. This is how bureauracies are born.

Sound like you

  • Small companies think that sounding big makes them appear bigger and more “professionaL’. But it just makes them sound ridiculous.

Four-letter words

  • Four words you should never use in business: need, must, can’t, easy, only, fast.
  • The truth is rarely black and white
  • These words are especially dangerous when you string them together: “We need to add this feature now. We can’t launch without this feature. Everyone want’s it. It’s only one little thing so it will be easy. You should be able to get it in there fast!”

ASAP is poison

  • ASAP devalues any request that doesn’t say ASAP

Inspiration is perishable

  • Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multipleier, 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


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