Rework is a masterpiece of untraditional business advice and strategy written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founders of the successful, innovative web software company 37 Signals, best known for their collaboration applications; especially Basecamp. This book throws out most of the conventional wisdom repeated in standard business texts, and for very good reason. If you’re looking for another boring book applauding business plans, competitive analysis, raising investor money, building a board of directors, hiring hundreds of skilled people, and working 23 hours a day, then this book is not for you. But if you want to learn how these two built a multi-million dollar Internet company doing things backwards and on their own terms, then you will enjoy every page of this.

What’s so different about their company, 37 Signals?

  • They intentionally only staff a handful of exceptional people.
  • Their employees are located in various cities across the globe.
  • A four-hour work-day is not uncommon.
  • Meetings are avoided as much as possible.
  • They have no outside funding.
  • Their products are loved because of how simple they are what they do not include.
  • “No talk” time is often enforced in the office.
  • And as was mentioned, they’re grossing millions in revenue.

The overall concepts of this book are simple; so much so that you have to wonder how conventional business wisdom and strategy became what is it; confusing and intimidating. Perhaps the times have changed how we should be working but no one is really noticing? Rework teaches us just that: how to stop talking and work smarter, faster, and more efficient. 

Their no-nonsense approach to work carries through in their writing. There’s no need to write 50 pages when you can get the point across just as well with 1 or 2. Some chapters are as little as one paragraph, rarely exceeding a few pages, which makes for an incredibly refreshing, exciting, easy read. Although the authors tend to reference their own company, which develops and sells web software, the knowledge and examples can be applicable to any business.

Here are two stand-out quotes:

  • “Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building upon what worked. So should you.”
  • “Plans let the past drive the future. They put blinders on you.”

The one-liners from the back of the book are enough to give you a good sense of what is to come:

  • ASAP is poison.
  • Underdo the competition.
  • Meetings are toxic.
  • Fire the workaholics / emulate drug dealers.
  • Pick a fight.
  • Planning is guessing.
  • Inspiration is perishable.

If you’re wondering what their reasoning is, and you should be, then you should get yourself a copy of Rework. Any one starting or running a business, or planning to, should take the time to read and enjoy this book; especially those intimidated by the traditional barriers and foundations of business and entrepreneurship.

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