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Will Rework Help You Leap From Existing To Exceptional In Your Business?

September 27, 2016

37Signals has released a book called Rework. The authors are Jason Fried and DHH, co-founders of one of the most successful cloud apps on the market, Basecamp and creators of the wildly popular application framework, Ruby on Rails.

Should you buy it? Will it help you make the leap from existing to exceptional in your business?

It’s quite an easy read. I’m going to lay down the good points here in my review.

I will start off by saying this is a business book. This means the goal of the book is to help you take action.

This book is about how to get the balls to run your business. If you already have balls, you won’t need this book. That’s the truth.

Digging into Rework

Rework is a feel-good book that is there to give you that push to start making a change in your business.It starts off by making several statements that you end up nodding your head in agreement:

Success is more important than failure.
A Harvard study found that successful entrepreneurs had a 34% chance of having future ventures funded.

Working long hours affects your creativity and judgement.
Workaholics aren’t heroes.

Serve your own needs.
The best business for you is the one you created to scratch your own itch.

But you already knew that right? Maybe not. They have a ton of great examples in the book to illustrate how business owners (including 37Signals) make bold decisions that pay off. See, I’m already drinking the juice here so this was more of a checklist for me than revelation.

They touch on important points that are obstacles for self realization:

Finding Time – “Whaaa! I can’t find the time to do xyz”.

One of my favorite quotes says it all:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

They point to how you spend your free time.  One of my friends last year was having trouble.  He’d hired a Personal Technology Trainer to help him start his business.  They kept bumping into tasks he said he was going to do but didn’t.  His trainer began asking him about his free time and suggested he cut out television.  He liked to say, “Do movie stars watch TV?”.  Within 15 days, he began to notice a difference.  He actually had more time, felt less stressed out and began actually working on his business.  I’m happy to say he now has a business name which is registered with the state of Georgia, a domain and his business cards are “in transit”!

Getting Started – “I can get this idea going once I _______”.

I have a favorite post by Seth Godin I point people to as they start counting off all the reasons they can’t seem to get traction.  It’s called, “When To Start“:

  • The best time to start is after you’ve worked all the kinks out of your plan.
  • The best time to start is when you’re sure it’s going to work.
  • The best time to start was last year. The best opportunities are already gone.

Each day you open your eyes.  Thank God you made it another day.  That’s what Dr. Maya Angelou says.  Consider how you would behave if the end of your life was much closer.

Need Things or Money – “Once I get that raise in 14 months I’m going to _____”

And then you get laid off.  This happened to another friend of mine.  He was planning to get some Microsoft certifications under his belt so he could start looking for a new job.  We met for coffee in 2017.  I urged him to take action by creating a plan.  I even emailed him an excel spreadsheet.  I offered to coach him on this since I had several Microsoft certs and had done a good deal of job hunting in my day.  My friend let the distractions of daily life get in the way.  One year later, he had a pink slip, no severance, no Microsoft certifications and a newly leased car.  Now, one year later, he’s still struggling.  He thought about starting his own business, filing a patent and now is considering going back to work full time for someone else as his unemployment runs out.

Would Rework of helped my friend?  Probably not.

Rework is a “yes” book.  As you read through it, you find yourself saying yes…a lot.  I found that I had say a quiet “yes” at least 5 times by page 19. Yes, is great but the point of yes is action. Action requires balls so my next question is…

Do you have the balls to run your own company?  And successfully?

Business Balls Checklist

I made this short list of 9 items covered in the Rework.  This is your reality check.  There are a lot of people out there who think they’re making progress but in truth, they’re simply moving the same pieces of a puzzle to a different part of the table vs actually completing that task at hand.  How do I know?  Because I used to be one of them until I got sick and tired of allowing others to run my life.

  1. You don’t worry about what the competition is doing
  2. You take risks but set goals with measurable metrics
  3. You run your company based on the needs of your customers but don’t let them run your business
  4. You have a process in place to digest feedback
  5. You know what every position in your company requires (because you’ve walked a mile in their shoes)
  6. You expect higher productivity vs hiring more staff
  7. Location is not a factor when it comes to hiring the best folks
  8. You say no to “endless meetings”
  9. You ignore naysayers


I was expecting a book with hands-on exercises. What I got was a pat on the back that everything I’ve been doing for the last 4 years since going into business for myself is right.

But what will happen to people who keep puttering along? Unable to take that very important step through the door of success? A strong piece of imagery I picked up from Tyler Perry is about the door of success. Often times, people point to the door, talk about the door, walk near the door but many do not pass through the door of success. Fear of failure, fear of success or just the plain unknown is enough to keep most of us from reaching our dreams. People need step by step guides when making drastic changes in their lives. I think this book was a great opportunity to provide that. Maybe 37Signals is planning to release a “Rework workbook”?

In fact, while reading Rework, I kept comparing it to The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I’m going to break out my comparative thoughts in part two, “Rework vs Four Hour Work Week”.

So, what are your thoughts? Are you going to pickup a copy of Rework?