I Just Devoured Rework

Rework Cover

Last week 37signals released Rework, their awesome new business book. I’ve long been a fan of theirs – I subscribe to their blog, follow David and Jason on Twitter, watch videos of their presentations at conferences, subscribe to their podcast, and have read their self-published web app book Getting Real many times over.

I don’t always agree with the way they do things – just last week I wrote about how our development process differs from theirs – but I really just love their authenticity. Their core business values align with mine. They preach self-funding your business, starting as fast as possible, creating a product that solves your own problems, etc etc. And I have a great deal of respect for how blunt they are with their opinions. They aren’t cocky (at least in my opinion), but they do say what they believe and don’t apologize for it.

The book itself quickly climbed into the Top 10 on Amazon. I had pre-ordered my copy several months before the holidays and was anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. It showed up Wednesday. I didn’t have a chance to pick it up until Friday night. By Saturday afternoon it was done, total reading time only ~1-2 hours. They do an amazing job of getting their point across without any fluff (which aligns with how they build their software). The book is comprised of short 1-3 page essays totaling just under 300 pages, each with original artwork from Mike Rohde. You can read a few of the sample essays to wet your appetite over on Tim Ferriss’ blog.

Having been a fan of 37signals for so long, I wasn’t sure if there would be anything “new” for me in the book. While I had heard many of the stories before, there were several essays that really got me thinking. Many of which were very timely for me, considering we’re working up to the launch of LockerPulse in a few months. The one that really hit home was in the Promotion section on page 173, Out-teach your competition. An excerpt:

Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about. Most businesses focus on selling or servicing, but teaching never even occurs to them. Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics. Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection. They’ll trust you more. They’ll respect you more. Even if they don’t use your product, they can still be your fans. Teaching is something that individuals and small companies can do that bigger competitors can’t. Big companies can afford a Super Bowl ad; you can’t. But you can afford to teach, and that’s something they’ll never do, because big companies are obsessed with secrecy.

That really hit home. Detailed Image is successful in large part because we teach people how to become great detailers with our content, our email customer service, and with our interaction on forum communities. SportsLizard is successful because it teaches people how to value their collectibles, including pointing out all of the scams out there and how to avoid them. Hopefully, this blog helps our business because I can get a little transparent and share with everyone what works for us and what doesn’t. That’s something we’ll have to keep in mind with LockerPulse and all future ventures – teaching is where small guys like us can get a real competitive advantage.

Anyway, I’m a bit of a fanboy but I really loved the book. I’d recommend it to anyone, but I’d say it’s a must read for anyone in web business. Most definitely something I’ll pick up and re-read often.

9 comments on I Just Devoured Rework

  1. tim says:

    Sounds very interesting, I’ll be sure to check this one out as soon as time allows.

  2. Anthony says:

    I appreciate how quick & simple it was too. I was actually a bit turned off for the first ~1/3 of the book – found the tone to be a bit condescending at time. But then the real meat came and it was page after page of good advice. Nothing I didn’t already learn/experience somewhere else in some capacity, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

    The main takeaway for me is that I need to stop shooting for the stars and taking so long to accomplish goals, that the goals themselves change in the meantime. Instead, I need to find ways to better recognize the low-hanging fruit I’m missing and grab at it as quickly as possible. I will make it a point to introduce new innovations & value adds in smaller chunks (and therefore, at a more constant pace) moving forward.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Glad you enjoyed it too Anthony. I agree about the first 1/3 of the book. The section is called “Takedowns” and their point is to “take down” conventional business wisdom. I appreciate the effort, and there are some interesting thoughts, but I learn so much more by just hearing the stuff that has helped them succeed…as opposed to their thoughts on why other businesses don’t. I sort of mentioned in the post, but it’s worth re-iterating, the focus is really on web software companies, so a lot of the lessons don’t apply to other businesses at all (and I’m not sure if they always understand that when they formulate their general opinions of business). I still think that anyone will enjoy their fresh approach, but the people who can take the most away from the book run a web app business.

  3. Thanks for the recommendation Adam! I just ordered the book and look forward to reading it.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Awesome Todd 🙂 Keep me posted on what you think. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it coming from a little different perspective.

  4. Meredith says:

    Just downloaded and read the PDF excerpt and it definitely has my interest piqued. Planning is guessing hit home BIG TIME.

  5. tim says:

    I read probably 1/3 of this while at Barnes and Noble the other day, I was a little unimpressed. I like that they are encouraging to challenge the status quo, I do not like how they pontificate their opinion as fact. Yes they are enormously successful in their arena, but it may prove to be very difficult applying some of their concepts to other businesses. I also don’t like how the book is jammed full of “fluff” the book is rather short, but it seems there is a full page picture on every third page. I will probably head back to a book store to read it in its entirety, but I don’t think I’ll end up purchasing this one.

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