Book Review: REwork by Jason Fried


I’m a big fan of Jason Fried. He was one of the first authors who confirmed I wasn’t crazy- that I could work outside of the suit and tie corporate life. He gets it. His company, 37Signals, defies everything we know about a workspace. The company makes an estimated $10 million per year in revenue with 16 employees.

There’s an office, but you don’t have to go more than a few times per year. You work on your own schedule. There are no meetings. Employees live round the world- the pool of talent isn’t limited geographically. He hires the right people, and by doing so, eliminates the need to micromanage.

REwork is the second book Fried has put out. The first book is called ‘Getting Real’ google it. You can download it for free from the 37signals website.

Getting Real set the tone- it shocked and created a decent controversy. Fried doesn’t mince words- he calls out shitty business practices unapologetically. It makes me giddy every time he does, because it’s a slap in the face to everything the powersuiters stand for. The things he loathes are the very things they live for. Meetings. Watercooler sessions. Micromanaging. 7 levels of people to go through to get a green flag for a project. Fried denounces all of it. I don’t hate corporate culture- I fear it. I’m terrified of the prospect that I can get into a repetitive, lazy, comfortable existence where I don’t have to think or engage- only to realize 40 years later that I wasted the best years of my life making someone else’s dream come true.

Rework is broken up into topics- and then Fried gives his thoughts on each. I’ll come out and say it-I might be slightly biased towards Fried. I didn’t really find anything that I didn’t agree with. Then again, I’ve avoided corporate culture like I would an STD.

Each chapter starts with simple artwork- I love it. I'd like more than a few turned into posters on heavy stock paper.

Each chapter starts with simple artwork- I love it. I’d like more than a few turned into posters on heavy stock paper.

Here’s some notes I took from a few of my favorite segments.

“Planning is Guessing”

-Long term business plans are useless. There are too many factors and variables.
-Writing a plan makes you feel in control when you really aren’t.
-Plans aren’t flexible. You can’t react quickly when you’re only worried about following a plan.
-Instead of planning, reevaluate often and adjust your direction accordingly.
-Working without a plan is scary, but blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.

“No Time is no Excuse”

-If you wanted it bad enough, you would do it instead of watching TV or playing videogames or sleeping an extra 2-3 hours. Most people don’t really want to be successful, not really. They aren’t willing to make changes to make it happen.

“Gear Doesn’t Matter”

-Like real guitarists know, tone is in your fingers. Gear will help, but don’t obsess on tools. What’s most important is how you use the tools you have.
-Do with what you have and upgrade when you need to.

“Making the Call is Progress”

-Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for perfect solutions, as they rarely present themselves. Commit to a decision, act on is, and move on. It’s better to not be in a relationship than to be afraid of ending a bad one.

“Say No!”

-People avoid saying no because it makes them uncomfortable. Like relationships, deal with uncomfortable situations immediately, avoid long term regret.
-Don’t try to please everyone. The customer is not always right. The problems worth addressing are the ones that customers keep bringing up. If a handful of people make a fuss, don’t bother.

Here’s the thing about REwork- it’s based on real world experience- this isn’t some random guru spouting advice he’s never applied. Fried has compiled and condensed 10 years of experience into this book. It has no industry jargon. It’s genuine.

In the same way that hot shower water going cold will shock your system, this will too- IF you’ve got too much “business” ingrained in your head. I recommend this one to everyone. Fried’s advice can be applied to all parts of your life. Owning less, keeping things simple, being honest and genuine, and not being afraid to make decisions isn’t just good business, it’s good life practice.

I recommend this one to everyone 17 and up. Who doesn’t want good life advice from a well rounded multi-millionaire?


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