This article provides an overview of the book Rework, which is an account of Jason Fried and David Hansson’s advice on how to start and build your company most efficiently. Mark Cuban has openly said that: “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read Rework or has an MBA, I’m investing in Rework every time. A must read for every entrepreneur”. If you want to read our executive summary of, Rework, view this page instead. If you would like to download all of our book summaries, click here.

This article and podcast answers the following questions:

  • Who are David Hansson and Jason Fried, and what is the book “Rework” about?
  • Why you should let your customers outgrow you
  • Why you should not work long hours
  • Why you should not have a master plan


Who are Jason Fried and David Hansson, and what is the book “Rework” about?

Jason Fried and David Hansson are co-authors of the book, “Rework”. As the president and co-founder of 37 signals, Jason has built several web-based tools including Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise, Campfire and Writeboard. Jason is recognized as a man who believes in productivity and collaboration. David Heinemeier, a Danish programmer, is also a partner of 37 signals, but he is most famous as the creator of the Ruby on Rails programming framework.

Rework is a book that will make you think differently and grab opportunities. Whether you’re a businessman, cab driver, venture capitalist or a house-wife, this book is for you. With technology at its peak, anybody can set up a new business, but Rework teaches you how to succeed and excel at it. You don’t have to be a workaholic to flourish; you don’t have to attend meetings and make boring flow-charts and diagrams to thrive; because Rework teaches you how to stop wasting time and start working.

It is apparent that Jason and David follow their own advice since they have been so successful with their ventures. This book is brilliant because unlike other books that offer the same old traditional business advice, Rework inspires you to stop procrastinating and start working.

Why you should let your customers outgrow you

Many successful people including Peter Thiel and Reed Hoffman have emphasized the importance of simplicity in business. Let’s assume that you have a hotdog stand. You find that you get a lot of customers who request you to alter your recipe according to their requirements. While it’s understandable that you need to pay attention to your customers, you need to remember not to tailor everything according to their needs. This can potentially move your business away from the product that you deliver best.

You don’t really continuously need new advanced features to appease your customers. Obviously, you can’t please everyone every time! So, stick to your guns and believe in your product and continue with your business even if your old customers outgrow you. Remember that when keeping your product or service simple you will attract a lot of new customers too.

Rework teaches you to focus completely on the epicenter of the product. Your laser-sharp focus is going to help you realize your dreams eventually and you should never let your focus be disturbed.

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For instance, if you have a hotdog stand, you should first figure out everything you need for your main product, which is the hotdog, rather than worrying about the stand or different recipes that can be altered in the future. This means that you’re better off with a simple business that concentrates on your main product, instead of failing while trying to get involved in everything at once.

You can also face several constraints in your business just like anyone else; however, if you embrace those problems and move forward, you can be unstoppable. It could be quite daunting to launch your product and wait for feedback and if it embarrasses you because of your mistakes, remember that it’s alright because if you aren’t embarrassed about it, then you’re probably too late in the market.

Why you should not work long hours

Our corporate American culture celebrates and encourages workaholics, but is it really necessary? We often listen to our colleagues talking about burning the midnight oil and killing themselves over projects. In Rework you’ll find arguments of why working long hours is rather bad. Why? Well, working more doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re solving work-related problems, but it simply means that they are incapable of completing things faster!

Workaholics tend to lose sleep to finish whatever they are doing, but they are simply unaware that they are not only being unproductive but are also creating more issues than they can even attempt to solve. Not only does this unnecessary heroism create unwanted problems, but it also demoralizes other employees in the company.

Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys that has branches all over the world, has also stated it’s not necessary to be a workaholic to produce outstanding results. In fact, he is very famous for an email he had sent out to all his employees that forbade them to work after 6 pm! As a man with a net worth exceeding $1.6 billion, he emphasizes that workaholics tend to be liabilities to the company. First off, workaholics aren’t sustainable in the long run and thanks to their stress, they are also incapable of making sound decisions. Now, we all know that it’s almost impossible to make sharp decisions when you’re tired and that applies to workaholics as well.

Instead of being a workaholic, try to figure out a way to finish your work faster. Working long hours won’t make you magically productive. Moreover, it’s always best to work smarter instead of working harder and if you approach everything with a fresh mindset, you will realize that you are actually working faster. Workaholics will claim that they are perfectionists, but in reality, they don’t accomplish anything more than the others who are non-workaholics. In other words, being a workaholic doesn’t make you a hero, but you are in fact a hero if you’re already home because you figured out a way to work more efficiently.

Why you should not have a master plan

You’ll often hear that any business requires a master plan; however, Jason and David disagree with that concept. According to them, planning your business, especially for the long run could simply be a fantasy. Though many people might think different and argue that it’s imperative to plan ahead in order to thrive in any business, Jason and David state that it could be very difficult for you to plan things simply because there’s absolutely nothing that’s constant in business. The authors of the book urge you to stop planning since planning is nothing but mere guess. As the market conditions change, customers, competitors and economy change, you will have to adapt to everything as you go. There could be many elements that could be completely out of your control and your plans could be worthless whenever these factors change repeatedly.

Strategic planning is definitely essential for any business, but that shouldn’t stop you from adapting to new ideas just because you had strategized something different earlier. If you start referring to your plans as guesses, you might be able to reduce the stress that accompanies every business plan. In addition, there’s nothing wrong to stick to your mission statement and work towards your ambition; however, if you stick to a plan that has too many details, then you’re more likely to miss all the wonderful opportunities that could come along your way. As an entrepreneur, you need to be flexible and balance your plan, but you should also have the ability to embrace any improvisations you encounter in the future.

In fact, Charlie Munger, the Vice-Chairman of the prestigious Berkshire Hathaway, agrees that there’s no necessity to come up with master plans to burgeon your company. He says that consistency and commitment bias could play a huge role when a company sticks to a master plan. This means that if you’ve designed a plan you’re probably fixated with it come hell or high water. Also, since you’ve discussed that plan with your colleagues, employees and board of directors, you might not welcome the idea of improvising anything even if it benefits the company. A detailed plan might give you the illusion of strong and determined leadership, but rather you’ll find missing valuable opportunities.


Hari’s Blog:

Jason Fried and David Hansson’s book, ReworkRead reviews of this book.

Alice Schroder’s book, The SnowballRead reviews of this book.

Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to OneRead reviews of this book.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, OutliersRead reviews of this book.

Preston’s Discusion of the World Deleveraging Situation on: The Warren Buffett Forum

Billionaire Ray Dalio’s white-paper: How the Economy Works



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