Change the Way You Work Forever


Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

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Learning from mistakes is overrated

  • What do you really learn from mistakes?
    You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that?
    You still don’t know what you should do next.
  • Learn from your successes.
  1. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures. It’s always building upon what worked.
  • Failure is not a prerequisite for success.
  1. Entrepreneurs whose companies failed the first time had almost the same follow-on success rate as people starting a company for the first time.

Planning is guessing

  • Business plans = business guesses
    Financial plans = financial guesses
    Strategic plans = strategic guesses
  • Plans let the past drive the future.
  • Sometimes you need to say;
    we’re going in a new direction because that’s what makes sense today.
  • Decide what you’re going to do this week, not this year.
    Figure out the next most important thing and do that.
  • Make decisions right before you do something, not far in advance.

Make a dent in the universe

  • To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference.

Scratch your own itch

  • Make something you want to use.

What you do is what matters,
not what you think or say or plan.

Draw a line in the sand

  • Keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.

Start a business, not a startup

  • A business without a path to profit isn’t a business; it’s a hobby.
  • Start an actual business.
  • Actual businesses have to deal with actual things like bills and payroll.
  • Actual businesses worry about profit from day one.

You need a commitment strategy,
not an exit strategy

  • Your priorities are out of whack if you’re thinking about getting out before you even dive in.
  • Would you go into a relationship planning the breakup?
    Would you write a prenup on a first date?
  • You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship.

Less mass

  • Right now, you’re the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be.
  • The more massive an object, the more energy is required to change its direction.
  • The more expensive it is to make a change, the less likely you are to make it.

Embrace constraints

  • Stop “I don’t have enough time/money/people/experience.”
  • Constraints are advantages in disguise.
  • There’s no room for waste.
  • It forces you to be creative.

You’re better off with a kick-ass half
than a half-assed whole

  • You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well.
  • Start cutting. Start by cutting out the merely good stuff.

Stop over planning–you can’t recognise the details that matter most until after you start building.

Decisions are progress

  • When you put off decisions, they pile up.
    As a result, the individual problems in those piles stay unresolved.
  • Swap “Let’s thinking about it” for “Let’s decide on it”.
  • Commit to making decisions.
  • Don’t wait for the perfect solution.
  • Decide and move forward.
  • “What can we easily do right now that’s good enough?”
  • You don’t have to live with a decision forever.
    If you make a mistake, you can correct it later.
  • It doesn’t matter how much you plan, you’ll still get some stuff wrong anyway.
    Don’t make things worse by overanalysing and delaying before you even get going.

Be a curator

  • You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room.
    That’s a warehouse.
    What makes a museum great is the stuff that’s not on the walls.
  • There’s a lot more stuff off the walls than on the walls.
  • It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.
    Constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline.
  • Be a curator. Stick to what’s truly essential.

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.
  1.–fast and free shipping, great selection, friendly return policies, and affordable prices

Sell your by-products

  • When you make something, you always make something else.
    Everything has a by-product.
  1. The experience that came from building/creating/making XXX

Get it out there

  • Once your product does what it needs to do, get it out there.
  • If you had to launch your business in two weeks, what would you cut out?
  • When you impose a deadline, you gain clarity.
  • Put off anything you don’t need for launch.
    Build the necessities now, worry about the luxuries later.
  • The best way to make something great is through iterations.
    Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.

Show, don’t tell

  • Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it.
    Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it.
  • Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction.

Reasons to quit

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What is this for?
  • Who benefits?
  • What’s the motivation behind it?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • What’s the problem?
  • Are customers confused?
  • Are you confused?
  • Is something not clear enough?
  • Was something not possible before that should be possible now?
  • Is this actually useful?
  • Are you making something useful or just making something?
  • Are you adding value?
  • Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers?
  • Can they get more out of it than they did before?
  • Will this change behaviour?
  • Is what you’re working on really going to change anything?
    Don’t add something unless it has a real impact on how people use your product.
  • Is there an easier way?
    Problems are usually pretty simple.
    We just imagine that they require hard solutions.
  • What could we be doing instead?
  • What can’t you do because you’re doing this?
  • Is it really worth it?
    Is this meeting worth pulling six people off their work for an hour?
  • Don’t throw good time after bad work.
    Sometimes abandoning what you’re working on is the right move, even if you’ve already put in a lot of effort.

Too much ketchup can ruin the fries.

Meetings are toxic

  • Is it ever OK to trade ten hours of productivity for one hour of a meeting?

Quick wins

  • The way you build momentum is by getting something done
    and then moving on to the next thing.

Walk away. You can’t get that time back.

  • 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 task was worth it when you thought it would cost two hours, not sixteen.
  • If you already spent too much time on something that wasn’t worth it, walk away.
    You can’t get that time back.

Your estimates suck

  • We're all terrible estimators.
  • Solution: Break the big thing into smaller things.
  • The smaller it is, the easier it is to estimate.

Put the most important thing at the top

  • The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it.
  • Solution: Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists.
  1. List of 10 items → 10 lists of 10 items.
  • Don't prioritise with numbers or labels; high-priority, low-priority
    This leads to all things ended up with high priority.
  • Prioritise visually. Put the most important thing at the top.
    You'll only have a single next most important thing to do at a time.

Make tiny decisions

  • When you make tiny decisions, you can't make big mistakes.
  • Making tiny decisions doesn't mean you can't make big plans or think big ideas.
    It just means you believe the best way to achieve those big things is
    one tiny decision at a time.

Don't copy

  • Copying skips understanding–and understanding is how you grow.
  • You have to understand why something works or why something is the way it is.

De-commoditise your product

  • If you're successful, people will try to copy what you do.
  • Solution: Make YOU part of your product.
    Inject what’s unique about the way you think into what you do.
  • Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product:
  1. how you sell it, how you support it,
  2. how you explain it, and how you deliver it.
  • Competitors can never copy the you in your product.

Focus on you, instead of them

  • If you're planning to build the “iPod killer” or the next Pokemon: you're already lost.
    You’re allowing the competition to set the parameters.
  • You're not going to out-Apple Apple.
    They’re defining the rules of the game.
    And you can't beat someone who’s making the rules.
  • You need to redefine the rules, not just build something slightly better.

Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority

  • Coming up with a great idea gives you a rush.
  • You start imagining the possibilities and benefits.
  • You want to drop everything and start working on your latest, greatest idea.
  • What seems like a sure-fire hit right now often gets downgraded to just a “nice to have” by morning.

Out-teach your competition

  • Chefs share everything they know.
  • They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows.
  • Because they know recipes and techniques aren't enough to beat them at their own game.

Go behind the scenes

  • Show people how your business works.
  • People are curious about how things are made.

Don’t be fake

  • Show your flaws.
  • Talk like you really talk.
  • Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss.
  • Be upfront about your shortcomings.
  • Show the latest version of what you’re working on.

Emulate drug dealers

  • They know their product is so good.
  • They're willing to give a little away for free upfront.
  • They know you’ll be back for more–with money.

Everything is marketing

  • Every time you answer the phone.
  • Every time you send an e-mail.
  • Every time someone uses your product.
  • Every word you write on your website.
  • Every error message.

Culture is action, not words.

  • Culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour.
  1. If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture.
  2. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in.
  3. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture.

Don't makeup problems you don't have yet

  • “But what if …?” “What happens when …?” “Don’t we need to plan for …?”
  • It’s not a real problem.
  • Most of the things you worry about never happen.

Four-letter words you should never use in business.

  • Need
  • Must
  • Can’t
  • Easy
  • Just
  • Only
  • Fast
  • ASAP

Inspiration has an expiration date

  • Ideas are immortal. Inspiration isn’t.
  • If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now.