Business and branding books glut the market. In fact, I have dozens. But the only one that I consider my “biz Bible”? Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the brilliant founders of 37signals (Basecamp, Highrise, etc.) I read Rework early last year and benefited enormously. Under pressure by co-workers and colleagues to “tone it down” (paraphrase), my intensity and originality were stifled, and the gradual sacrifice to “fit in” within a small niche culture eroded my sharpness.
For a few months, I lost my way. Lost my “voice” as a respected, honest reviewer and blogger. My bleeding edge that makes me unique, unparalleled and in demand dulled.
A few days ago, I picked up Rework once again. The no BS “cookbook” that the authors freely share in this book nudged me back on my path, realigned my focus and honed my communicative blade. In short, it reminded me that I’m responsible for my own dreams, my own brand and my own integrity. “Playing nice” didn’t earn me my current following, and it sure won’t increase it. In fact, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson agree. They write in Rework:
“Strong opinions aren't free. You'll turn some people off. They'll accuse you of being arrogant and aloof. That's life. For everyone who loves you, there will be others who hate you. If no one's upset by what you're saying, you're probably not pushing hard enough. (And you're probably boring, too.)”
And some other gems from Rework?:
• "When you want something bad enough, you make the time--regardless of your other obligations."
• "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."
• "When you don't know what you believe, everything becomes an argument."
• "A business without a path to profit isn't a business, it's a hobby."
• "The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service so to make something you want to use. That lets you design what you know--and you'll figure out immediately whether or not what you're making is any good."
• "If you think a competitor sucks, say so."
• “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.”
• “Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate…Writing is making a comeback all over our society…Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”
With provocative chapter titles like “Emulate Drug Dealers”, “Planning is Guessing”, “Meetings are Toxic”, “Pick a Fight” and “You’re Better off with a Kick-Ass Half than a Half-Assed Whole”, Rework delivers bare-bone brilliance and common sense remedies for tangled bureaucracy, analysis paralysis, waiting for perfection, disseminating information, standing out and relating to customers. At 273-pages, Rework is for every innovator, business owner, startup and freelancer wanting to create smart, simple and authentic work. As the authors say, “Nobody likes plastic flowers”. So what are you waiting for? Buy Rework and get out there—cracks, scratches, warts and all—and make it happen.
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