Rework: Quotes by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier

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In their book Rework, entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explain how old-school thinking doesn’t apply in today’s new business paradigm. Based on their own startup success, they champion a simpler, cheaper, less labor-intensive way to start and manage a company. 

The following Rework quotes highlight some of their key points.

Rework: Quotes and Passages

Co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals, a company that creates project-management software and other online management tools, believe that anyone can start and operate a business with fewer resources than they think.

Their book Rework’s less-is-more philosophy deconstructs conventional business wisdom and rewrites it according to today’s Internet-based paradigm. It shows that you don’t need an MBA, outside investors, strategic plans, or a board of directors to launch a business. You also don’t need to work 100 hours per week or hire 100 employees. You don’t even need an office. Instead, reject old-school thinking, embrace simplicity, and run your company like a smart, frugal, well-oiled machine.

Below is a selection of Rework quotes that highlight their business philosophy.

“Meetings: “They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense”.”

The authors’s corollary is to avoid meetings if at all possible. They’re notorious time-wasters. If you must have a meeting, follow these protocols: 

  1. Set an alarm to go off after an allotted period of time. When the alarm rings, the meeting ends. 
  2. Limit the number of people in the meeting—fewer is always better. 
  3. Set an agenda that includes a clear, specific problem to be solved. 
  4. If possible, meet at the place where the problem is occurring, like at the assembly line or customer service desk. 
  5. Find a solution before the meeting is over and assign someone to put that solution into action. 

“When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers.”

Focus your energies on creating an environment in which every employee can do his or her best work. Even a mediocre employee can do outstanding work in a nurturing environment. Give your employees the tools, space, privacy, respect, and trust they need to achieve greatness. Don’t create needless bureaucratic policies—like having to get a manager’s approval to leave work for a dentist appointment—that make them feel like they work for Big Brother.

“Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination itself.”

People are impressed when you run a big business in a high-rise building with 100 employees, but they’re not nearly as impressed when you work out of your garage by yourself. However, company growth is highly overrated. Many owners of large businesses long for the days when their companies were smaller and easier to manage. They’re faced with headaches that small businesses don’t have, like crippling rent, sky-high employee benefit costs, and overwhelming IT infrastructure.  

“Workaholics don’t actually accomplish more than nonworkaholics. They may claim to be perfectionists, but that just mean they’re wasting time fixating on inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task.”

Americans admire hard work. We’re wowed by people who devote their lives 24/7 to their jobs. (“Wow, you slept at the office. High fives for your dedication!”)  

But hard workers who pull all-nighters actually create problems instead of solving them. Workaholics tend to be martyrs—they enjoy feeling like they’re the hardworking heroes who save the company from disaster. They make other employees feel like they’re not doing enough. And worst of all, they’re not that productive. Instead of trying to figure out a smart, efficient answer to a problem, they just throw more hours at it. 

“If circumstances change, your decisions can change. Decisions are temporary.”

In business, it’s dangerous to say, “Let’s decide later.” You want to keep moving forward, and that only occurs when decisions get made, even if those decisions aren’t perfect. You may think you need to wait to decide until you have more information about the choice at hand, but you’re just as likely to make a good decision today as you are tomorrow. 

Rework: Quotes by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier

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  • Why the old-school process of starting a business doesn't work anymore
  • Why you should completely ignore your business competition
  • How to hire employees and help them thrive

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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