Book Review – REWORK

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write the way they build websites. And that’s not a bad thing. They’re the authors of REWORK, the latest book from Chicago-based web application company 37Signals. Written as a series of iterations on iterating, the book expresses the now-famous philosophy of Fried and Hansson in their most readable, well-illustrated way yet. From meetings and work hours to finding funding and picking fights with the competition, this book will surprise you with its blunt witticisms.

If anything, REWORK is more confident about its maxims than 37Signals has ever been. “We have something new to say about building, running, and growing . . . a business,” the book starts. “The book isn’t based on academic theories. It’s based on our experience . . . More than 3 million people around the world use our products.” In other words, if you doubted them in 1999, when they were just getting started, or even in 2006, when they published Getting Real, you can’t doubt them anymore.

Like their previous book, Getting Real, REWORK comes in bite-sized sections a page or two at a time. You can practically open to any page and get some instant business-building enlightenment. For instance:

“When you think about it, the true cost of meetings is staggering. Let’s say you’re going to schedule a meeting that lasts one hour, and you invite ten people to attend. That’s actually a ten-hour meeting, not a one-hour meeting. You’re trading ten hours of productivity for one hour of meeting time.”

And again:

“If you think a competitor sucks, say so. When you do that, you’ll find that others who agree with you will rally to your side. Being the anti-______ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.”

What it lacks in continuity it makes up for in simplicity. Eventually, the short essays combine to paint a picture of what Hansson and Fried have learned about building a web-app building company that’s profitable. Armed with such authoritative quips, any employee should have the wherewithal to change a few things at his or her company. That’s where REWORK really shines. Short enough to skim and punchy enough to make you think, this book is the perfect gift for your CEO, your business partner, or maybe even your significant other.

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Scott Cowley

I’ll just say thank you for introducing me to the word “witticism.” That wins portmanteau-of-the-day. (And I hope I win Rework)

Michael A. Robson

This is a quick one, but actually pretty ingenious. This is the go-to guide to authenticity and agility with your startup. The traditional ‘get rick quick’ scheme is a boring pretensious scam. Rework is the path to real success.

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