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Rework

Summary by Basile Samel

10 min read

Work doesn’t have to be soul-crushing. In his book Rework, Jason Fried from Basecamp proposes 12 chapters to help you develop your business without ruining your health.

I. FIRST

1. The new reality:Today anyone can be in business”. Rework is a book for anyone, but not for everyone. It’s designed for people wanting to start or running a business, independently of your financial, social, geographical, or professional situation.

II. TAKEDOWNS

1. Ignore the real world: The real world is a toxic place where dreams are slaughtered by those who are too coward to try. Somebody else’s reality doesn’t have to be yours, so define your own reality with your own existence and ignore the rest.

2. Learning from mistakes is overrated: Failing for the sake of it is not okay. Iterate over what works: success compounds.

3. Planning is guessing: Don’t plan, always be improvising. Reality can only be predicted on a short or extremely long term.

4. Why grow?: Your company size is a vanity metric. Growing increases business complexity, and going leaner down the road is even harder. Stay small as long as it remains sustainable.

5. Workaholism: Working too much is getting less things done. Always go deep or go out.

6. Enough with “entrepreneurs”: Being an entrepreneur is now at anyone’s reach, the term doesn’t mean anything anymore.

III. GO

1. Make a dent in the universe: Greatness originates from purpose. Make something that improves someone else’s life with what you already have.

2. Scratch your own itch: Make something you’d use yourself. Developing a profitable business takes years, you don’t want to spend them doing things you don’t want to do.

3. Start making something: Ideas are worthless, execution is everything.

4. No time is no excuse: There is always time to use differently to serve a purpose dear to you. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just spend time wisely and it will eventually compounds.

5. Draw a line in the sand: Never forget your why. Share your stands openly to attract the right people and make the right choices.

6. Mission statement impossible: Always align your acts and objectives with your mission statement. Empty words are worth nothing.

7. Outside money is Plan Z: Raising money is giving up control and focus. Quality and sustainability should always come first.

8. You need less than you think: Stay lean, stay frugal. Learn to act fast with limited means.

9. Start a business, not a startup:Actual businesses worry about profit from day one.

10. Building to flip is building to flop: Don’t look for exits, commit and focus on your customers. It’s not a stepping stone, it’s your life’s work.

11. Less mass: The heavier you are, the harder it is to move. Always make sure you can act fast.

IV. PROGRESS

1. Embrace constraints: Learn to build with the tools at hand. What you think you don’t have to do X is just an opportunity to be creative.

2. Build half a product, not a half-assed product: Don’t multitask, do one thing amazing well and kill your darlings.

3. Start at the epicenter: Find your core activity and get it right first and foremost.

4. Ignore the details early on: Details are important but they can wait an iteration or two. Get real market feedback first.

5. Making the call is making progress: Take a decision now, don’t wait. Thinking about it later before choosing will slow everything down. Take the leap as soon as possible.

6. Be a curator: Quality has to prevail over quantity. Remove, then add.

7. Throw less at the problem: Always go for the simplest solution, decrease complexity, do less.

8. Focus on what won’t change: Think in terms of First Principles.

9. Tone is in your fingers: The tool doesn’t matter, content does. Just do the best you can with what you have.

10. Sell your by-products:When you make something, you always make something else. […] Everything has a by-product. Observant and creative business minds spot these by-products and see opportunities.

11. Launch now: Don’t delay. Confront yourself to reality head-on, it’s the only way to grow in the right direction.

V. PRODUCTIVITY

1. Illusions of agreement: Instead of planning and reporting, make something: mockups, models, drawings, MVPs… create something the stakeholders can relate to.

2. Reasons to quit: Questions to ask yourself to know whether or not you should keep going: Why are you doing this? What problems 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?

3. Interruption is the enemy of productivity: Deep Work, always: no distraction, no people, no communication tool, just the work.

4. Meetings are toxic: Avoid meetings, or keep them short and solution-driven.

5. Good enough is fine: Keep your solution simple. Just enough to get the job done, iterate later.

6. Quick wins: Momentum = get something done, be happy about it, and move on to the next thing. Don’t wait.

7. Don’t be a hero: Learn to quit, don’t waste time chasing a chimera.

8. Go to sleep: Sleep deprivation is never ok.

9. Your estimates suck: Break your project down into tiny chunks (e.g., one work day) before estimating.

10. Long lists don’t get done: Break down long lists into smaller ones as to avoid feeling overwhelmed and don’t forget to prioritize your items.

11. Make tiny decisions:Decisions that are too far-fetched prevent you from changing course. Take tinier decisions at the smallest scale available, this way you can easily fix them if you’re wrong.

VI. COMPETITORS

1. Don’t copy: Copying is not understanding. It’s not leading either: find your voice.

2. Decommoditize your product: Become an integral part of your product experience. No one can copy you.

3. Pick a fight: Take a stand and own it, then go against your enemies: only in the face of adversity can you acquire true allies.

4. Underdo your competition: Do less, but better. Don’t try to do more, just do things differently.

5. Who cares what they’re doing?: Focus on yourself, not on the competition. It’s the only way to grow.

VII. EVOLUTION

1. Say no by default: Say no to customer requests when it dilutes your vision of the product and explain why.

2. Let your customers outgrow you: Keep your product lean, don’t build features to please established users who have bigger needs since it will cut you from new users. You can’t please everyone by building everything.

3. Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority: Don’t just jump on the new idea yet. Give it time to mature and stay the course. Evaluate ideas according to your priorities, not your emotions.

4. Be at-home good: An at-home product is the kind of product where the more you use, the more you love it. It doesn’t disappoint after it’s unpacked.

5. Don’t write it down:Listen, but then forget […] requests that really matter are the ones you’ll hear over and over.

VIII. PROMOTION

1. Welcome obscurity: Not being popular is an opportunity to take more risks by trying out new things, enjoy it.

2. Build an audience:An audience returns often - on its own - to see what you have to say.” => best way to sell, not buying ads

3. Out-teach your competition: Teaching what you know is the best way to gain trust. We all have valuable knowledge to share.

4. Emulate chefs: Share everything you know. Transparency is how you outsmart your paranoid competitors.

5. Go behind the scenes: Be transparent about how your business works. It will affect your relationship with your users in a great way: more understanding is more trust.

6. Nobody likes plastic flowers: Own your flaws, don’t be afraid to display them openly. Appearing vulnerable makes you real.

7. Press releases are spam: Always be personal. You don’t stand out by telling the same old story everyone already heard.

8. Forget about the Wall Street Journal:Niche media over mass media“.

9. Drug dealers get it right: Give a free sample and make sure the experience is addictive.

10. Marketing is not a department: Everything in your business is a marketing opportunity.

11. The myth of the overnight sensation: Success takes a very long time. Patiently build an audience over the years.

IX. HIRING

1. Do it yourself first:Never hire anyone to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.” You need to understand what you expect from your employee before having one.

2. Hire when it hurts: Hire when doing otherwise would result in a decrease of the overall quality level.

3. Pass on great people: Don’t hire people you don’t need, however talented they might be.

4. Strangers at a cocktail party: Hiring too quickly doesn’t set the right environment to productively work in because we naturally tend to avoid conflicts with people we don’t know.

5. Resumes are ridiculous: Don’t hire based on resumes. A cover letter is better because it involves getting personal.

6. Years of irrelevance: How well you’ve been doing your work beats how long you’ve been in a position.

7. Forget about formal education: Don’t limit your talent pool to individuals with degrees. Make the distinction between schooling and education.

8. Everybody works: Don’t hire managers. Everyone should do work, not delegate it.

9. Hire managers of one: A manager of one manages himself/herself. They are self-driven, all they need is a direction.

10. Hire great writers:Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. […] They make things easy to understand. […] Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

11. The best are everywhere: Hiring remotely allows you to access a greater talent pool: location shouldn’t be a hiring criteria anymore.

12. Test-drive employees: The best way to evaluate a potential employee is to hire him/her to work on a miniproject.

X. DAMAGE CONTROL

1. Own your bad news: Tell anything that happens: bad and good news alike. Trust requires transparency. Don’t hesitate to apologize.

2. Speed changes everything: Good customer service is about being fast and personal. Always be polite and solution-driven, even when you don’t know the answer (yet).

3. How to say you’re sorry: Own your responsibility. Explain the problem, the quick fix, and the long-term solution. Always be in your customer’s shoes.

4. Put everyone on the front lines: Never totally cut yourself from a customer-facing position. Interacting with customers is how you improve.

5. Take a deep breath: Own the changes you believe in. People will criticize the changes you make, resist the temptation to please everyone and wait for them to get used to it.

XI. CULTURE

1. You don’t create a culture:Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior.” A culture is not made, it’s stumbled upon.

2. Decisions are temporary: Don’t be afraid of changing your decisions. Live in the present and don’t plan far ahead.

3. Skip the rock stars: Anyone can be a rock star worker with the right environment: focus on building a rock star environment.

4. They’re not thirteen: Trust your employees, give them the independence they need. How people spend their time doesn’t matter as much as the delivery, as long as the quality is here.

5. Send people home at 5: Encourage people to make a better use of their time instead of telling them to work longer hours. You want your employees to have a life outside of work.

6. Don’t scar on the first cut:Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once.”

7. Sound like you: Don’t try to act, be yourself. Write like you talk: be friendly without being formal.

8. Four-letter words: The words need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast are inviting bad assumptions. Don’t use them.

9. ASAP is poison: Don’t use ASAP.

XII. CONCLUSION

1. Inspiration is perishable:Inspiration is a now thing.” Grab it when it happens, you can’t delay it.

Rework is a book full of wisdom any entrepreneur should read to build more transparent, healthy, and efficient businesses.

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Written by Basile & Ali