What I’ve Learned by Reading Rework from Jason Fried

I said in the post about my goals earlier this year that I will be reading at least two business books per month in 2014, and that I will post reviews of these books on my website to share what I’ve read, and also to keep myself accountable. Recently I’ve been reading the book Rework written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book is mainly about entrepreneurship, where they describe all the things that they learned while creating and running their own company.

Those who know me personally know that the idea of being my own boss is quite important in my life. However, it is not really about business that I want to talk in this post: I just want to share what I learned from this book that could be applied to anyone’s life.

First, and what I believe is the most important lifestyle advice in the book, is the whole failing and pushing boundaries thing. Most of lifestyle advices that we see around emphasise failing so much, because it means you are learning. Well, it seems it not that simple. Failure is good to learn something, but success is good to learn as well. Both are needed to actually make progress. So don’t be afraid of failure, but also don’t pursue it like the holy grail.

Which leads to pushing boundaries : the moment you really have to be afraid of is when no failure or success happen anymore. As the authors of the book put it, if nobody is upset about what you are doing, you are probably not pushing hard enough. In this is true in the business world as it is in every other domains : if you are not pushing your life forward and upsetting some people on the way, it probably means you are not making progress.

Another cool advice I found in this book : stop trying to be perfect. When you are running a company and are confronted with a problem, the good solution is the one that does the job, not the one that looks good. This strongly relates to my own experience for example : I always wanted things to be perfect, and I wondered what was the cause of this. I found it in my education. Well, you have to know I was a pretty good student at school. And what do we teach us at school ? To be perfect. The good student is not the one that solves a given problem, the good student is the one that get the best grade on an exam. So please, if you are like me, think more about how to solve your problems efficiently, and less about looking good.

The title of one chapter of the book inspired me for the last idea I wanted to share. The title of this chapter is “Don’t be a hero”. It says that if something sucks in your business, it is your absolute duty to cut it off as soon as possible, even if it is difficult. It relates a bit to the cheesecake factor story. Short version of the story : it’s about someone that make an absolutely disgusting cheesecake. But because this person invested a lot of time preparing the cake, he ate it anyway, even if the logical decision would have been to just throw it away.

What this chapter basically says is : don’t do that to yourself. You don’t have to live everyday with the consequences of mistakes you’ve done in the past. It might not be easy, I know it myself for having been way too many times in that kind of situation. So if this relates to you in any way, wether it is about your job, a relationship, or any other situation, you have to learn to say goodbye and finally put that cheesecake to the thrash.

  • Solid review of the book, I read Rework last year and I would definitely say it was a rather eye-opening experience.