1. The New Reality
    • Tools previously out of reach now easily accessible
    • One person can do the job of departments
    • You can start a business on the side
    • You don’t need an office
  2. Take Downs
    • Ignore the Real World. The real world is an excuse and justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.
    • Learning from Mistakes is Overrated. Success is the experience that counts. Learn from it. According to Harvard study, Failed entrepreneurs succeeded at same rate as first timers.
    • Planning is Guessing. You have most info when you’re doing something not before. Focus on next week not next year. Working with no plan is scary, but blindly following plan with no relationship with reality is worse.
    • Why Grow? Premature hiring is death. Ramping up doesn’t have to be your goal. The right size for you might be small.
    • Workaholism. Working like that not sustainable. Tiredness results in worse judgment. Can result in intellectual laziness and brute force over elegant solutions.
    • Enough with “entrepreneurs.” Everyone should be encouraged. Just do what you love and get paid for it. Let’s use “starter”.
  3. Go
    • Make a dent. Feel like you’re making a difference. If you stop, people will notice. Do something that matters. Drudge Report and Craigslist changed the entire industry.
    • Scratch your own itch. Make something you want to use. You will be able to tell instantly whether it is good or not. Not imaginary problem. Fall in love with what you’re making.
    • Start making something. What you do matters. Need to actually make something. Execute.
    • No time is no excuse. Do it at night. A few hours a week. Figure out if you’re really interested. Most don’t want it bad enough.
    • Draw a Line in the Sand. Understand why you are doing things. Show the world what you stand for. Attract superfans. If you’re not offending, probably not pushing hard enough.
    • Mission statement impossible. Stand for something and don’t just write it down. Believe it and live it.
    • Outside Money is Plan Z. In a service economy, you don’t need much to get going.
      • You give up control
      • “Cashing Out” becomes a priority
      • Spending Other people’s money is addictive and have to keep giving away your company
      • Usually a bad deal because no leverage
      • Customers move down the totem pole
      • Raising money is incredibly distracting
    • You need Less than you think. Do you really need the nicer thing? Nothing wrong with frugal. Do it on the cheap where possible.
    • Start a business, not a startup. Law of business physics applies to everyone. Revenue in and Expenses out. If no profits, it is a hobby.
    • Building to flip is building to flop. You need commitment. Focus on succeeding. If you sell then what are you going to do? Will it be more fulfilling than running a business you love?
    • Less mass. More mass requires more energy to change direction. With less mass you can change priorities, product, mix, focus or, most importantly, your mind.
  4. Progress
    • Embrace constraints. Limited resources force you to make do with no waste. Boxing ourselves prevented us from making bloated products.
    • Build half a product, not a half-assed product. Cut your ambition in half. Most great ideas won’t seem great later. If they are, do them later. Make something great by cutting out things that are just good.
    • Start at the epicenter. Start with what you HAVE to do. What part of equation can’t be removed? Focus on making that the best it can be. Everything else depends on that foundation.
    • Ignore the details early on. Don’t get lost in things that won’t matter. Big picture only in the beginning. Usually can’t recognize important details until after you start building.
    • Making the call is making progress. Commit to making decisions. Move forward. Can’t build on deciding later. Don’t have to live with a decision forever. Will always get stuff wrong.
    • Be a curator. There is more off the wall than on the wall in a museum. Pare things down and do it again. Focus on quality
    • Throw Less at the problem. Trim the menu and polish what’s left. Doing less will force you to make tough calls and sort out what truly matters. If you push back deadlines and increase your budget, it will never end.
    • Focus on what won’t change. What will always be in demand? Speed, simplicity, ease of use, clarity will never go out of style.
    • Tone is in your fingers. It’s not about the gear. People use technology as a shortcut. In a podcast, it’s not about the equipment but the content. Focus on what really matters: getting customers and making money.
    • Sell your by-products. How can you position your knowledge as another product? This book is a by-product of our efforts building a business.
    • Launch Now. Once product works, get it out. Impose a deadline and you will find out what is important. There is a lot you don’t need on day one. Don’t skimp on quality, but recognize that the best method is iterations. Find out for real.
  5. Productivity
    • Illusions of agreement. Reports and diagrams that no one reads waste time. Remove levels of abstraction. Get real with it. Hard to agree until you have something real.
    • Reasons to Quit. Don’t throw good time after bad work.
      • Why are you doing this?
      • What problem are you solving? Sometimes you are solving an imaginary problem. Stop if you are.
      • Is this actually useful? Cool wears off. Useful never does
      • Are you adding value? Can they get more out of it than they did before? Adding can subtract value. Value is about balance.
      • Will this change behavior? Don’t add, unless impacts how people use
      • Is there an easier way? Problems are usually pretty simple.
      • What could you be doing instead? Prioritize.
      • Is it really worth it? Determine the real value of what you’re doing before taking the plunge.
    • Interruption is the enemy of productivity. Alone zone is most productive time. Interruptions greatly hinder this. Takes time to get into zone. Create and enforce your alone times. Focus on passive communication tools. Fight for your time.
    • Meetings are toxic. Usually abstract. not a lot of information. requires prep. vague goals. meetings procreate. Total Time Cost of Meeting = (meeting time + time to ramp back up)*(number of attendees).
      • Set a timer and stick to it.
      • Invite as few people.
      • Always clear agenda.
      • Begin with specific problem.
      • Meet at the site of problem
      • End with a solution and make someone responsible
    • Good enough is fine. Find a judo solution. Most with least. Problems usually solved with simple mundane solutions. Can turn good enough into great later.
    • Quick Wins. Build momentum by getting something done. What can we do in two weeks? Go and do it.
    • Don’t be a hero. Sheer overload usually not worth it. Could have gotten something else done. Bring in fresh pair of eyes, may be an obvious solution. Quitting might be best solution if you’re spending time on something that’s not worth it.
    • Go to sleep. Lack of sleep destroys creativity, morale, and attitude. Creativity may allow you to solve more efficiently.
    • Your Estimates Suck. Break big things into smaller chunks. Will still be wrong, but likely less wrong. Break into 6-10 hour chunks and go one step at a time.
    • Long lists don’t get done. Are guilt trips. Make them smaller. divide problems into smaller problems. Don’t label by priority, put most important at top. That way you only have one main priority at a time.
    • Make tiny decisions. Big decisions are hard to make and hard to change due to inertia and ego. Take one small step at a time otherwise pie-in-the-sky fantasy will never get done.
  6. Competitors
    • Don’t copy. Copying skips understanding. You need understanding to grow. nothing to base future decisions on. Always in passive position, never lead. If someone else is doing bulk of work, you are copying. Be influenced, but don’t steal.
    • Decommoditize your product. Make you part of your service. Make it something no one else can offer. Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell, support, explain and deliver. Competitors can never copy the you.
    • Pick a fight. Being the anti-____ is a great way to differentiate yourself. Can pit yourself against a company or an industry. Having an enemy gives you a story to tell customers. People get stoked by conflict and take sides. Good way to get noticed.
    • Underdo your competition. Defensive companies can’t think ahead. Solve the simple problems. Let others tackle big hairy ones. Don’t shy away from fact that your product does less. Highlight it, be proud.
    • Who cares what they’re doing? Don’t focus on competition. Focus on yourself instead. Improve yourself. Otherwise will dilute your own vision. If you’re going to copy, why are you even doing this? Even if you wind up losing, it’s better to go down fighting for what you believe in.
  7. Evolution
    • Say no by default. Make saying no a habit. Confrontation is necessary sometimes. Customer is not always right. Explain kindly and if not happy, refer to a competitor. Keep your product right for you so you can truly say you love it.
    • Let your customers outgrow you. Don’t let your product get so customized. Scaring away new customers is worse than losing existing customers. Make sure it is easy for people to get on board. Stay loyal to a type of customer than a specific individual with changing needs.
    • Don’t confuse Enthusiasm with priority. Enthusiasm is not indicator of true worth. Generate new ideas, but wait a few days and assess with a calm mind.
    • Be at-home good. Don’t oversell. Make something that will make them more impressed at home than when they bought it. Give up some in-store sizzle. Can’t paint over a bad experience with good advertising.
    • Don’t write it down. The requests that really matter will keep coming in over and over. The important stuff doesn’t go away.
  8. Promotion.
    • Welcome obscurity. Make mistakes while you are unknown. Obscurity protects ego. Harder to take risks when you are successful. Changing something that a million people are using is much more difficult.
    • Build an audience. Make people come to you. An audience comes on their own. Speak, write blog, tweet, make videos. Share information that’s valuable. When you need to get word out, right people will already be listening.
    • Out-teach your competition. Teach and you’ll form a bond. Earning loyalty results in fans. Big companies are obsessed with secrecy. Use this to outmaneuver them.
    • Emulate Chefs. Best known share everything they know. Share everything you know. What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional?
    • Go behind the scenes. People love hearing about secrets behind jobs. People love seeing how things are done. They want to know why people do things. Develops deeper bond and deeper understanding of what you do with customers.
    • Nobody likes plastic flowers. Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Show world what you are really like. Wabi-sabi values character and uniqueness instead of shiny facade. When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. Talk like you really talk. Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss. Be upfront about short-comings. You might not seem as professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine.
    • Press releases are spam. Stand out. call someone. write a personal note. Do something meaningful. Be remarkable. Be unforgettable. That’s how you get best coverage.
    • Forget about the Wall Street Journal. Don’t try to pitch anyone there. You’re not big enough. Focus on trade publication or niche blogger. Articles in big-time publications don’t result in the same level of direct, instant activity.
    • Drug dealers get it right. Make your product addictive. Make something bite-sized. If people don’t come back for more, your product isn’t strong enough.
    • Marketing is not a department. Marketing is what everyone does in your company 24/7/365. when phones are answered, product is used, error message, invoice, etc. It is the sum total of everything you do.
    • The myth of the overnight sensation. Focus on slow measured growth. You need to grind it out. A lot of companies (Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Google) became great without a big PR push upfront. Start getting people interested in what you have to say and then keep at it.
  9. Hiring
    • Do it yourself first. You’ll understand the nature of the work and what a good job done looks like. You’ll be a better manager. You can hire or learn your way out of it. Be intimately involved with all aspects of your business otherwise you will be in the dark putting your fate in the hands of others. That’s dangerous.
    • Hire when it hurts. If someone leaves, don’t hire immediately, typically you don’t need as many people as you think. It’s right when there’s more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time. There should be things you can’t do anymore and quality level is slipping.
    • Pass on great people. Don’t hire if you don’t need. Worse to have great people who aren’t doing anything meaningful. Artificial projects have real costs. If you don’t need someone, you don’t need someone.
    • Strangers at a cocktail party. People make small talk with strangers. Need genuine discussions. With too many strangers, people will be polite and appease instead of challenge. Gets companies into trouble. Try not to offend everyone. Need environment where people can be honest. Hire slowly.
    • Resumes are ridiculous. Farce. no way to verify. Check the cover letter. Applicant can’t churn out hundreds of personalized letters. You can hear actual voice. Trust your gut reaction. If no hook in first three paragraphs, unlikely to be a match. On other hand, if your gut is telling you there’s a chance, move onto interview stage.
    • Years of Irrelevance. Real difference comes from dedication, personality, and intelligence. How long someone’s been doing something is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.
    • Forget about formal education. Plenty of intelligent people not great in classrooms. The pool of great candidates is far bigger than people who completed college with a stellar GPA.
    • Everybody works. Everyone needs to be producing. Avoid delegators. Delegators love to pull people into meetings where they seem important. This pulls away people who need to do real work.
    • Hire managers of one. Hire people who come up with own goals and executes them. Free you from oversight. Don’t need hand holding. Someone who’s capable of building something from scratch and seeing it through. Finding these people frees the rest of your team to work more and manage less.
    • Hire great writers. Writing skills will pay off. Clear writing is clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. Make things easy to understand and know what to omit. So much communication occurs through writing. Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.
    • The best are everywhere. It’s crazy not to hire the best people just because they live far away. Make sure remote teams can stay in touch and have 2-4 hours of overlap. This is good, because gives more alone time to work. Meet in person once in a while.
    • Test-drive employees. Hire them for a mini-project. Make up a project. The truth comes out in the real world work environment.
  10. Damage Control
    • Own your bad news. Don’t let someone else tell the story. There are no secrets.
      • Message should come from the top
      • Spread far and wide. don’t sweep under the rug
      • No Comment is not an option
      • Apologize the way a real person would and explain in detail what happened
      • Honestly be concerned about the fate of your customers and then prove it
    • Speed changes everything. People are used to be putting on hold and hearing platitudes about “caring” that aren’t backed up. Get back to people quickly. People appreciate personal responses. Even if you don’t have an answer, say you will research and get back to them.
    • How to say you’re sorry. worst is the non-apology. “We’re sorry if this upset you.” Person in charge should take responsibility. “I” stronger than “we.” Don’t use canned response. How would you feel if you were on the other end? Best apologies won’t work if you haven’t earned trust.
    • Put everyone on the front lines. Listening to customers is best way to get in tune with products’ strengths and weaknesses. Like telephone game, people removed from customers will have distorted view. Everyone should be connected in some way.
    • Take a deep breath. People are animals of habit and will react to changes in negative way. People usually respond before giving it a chance. Don’t backpedal on a necessary but controversial decision. Let people complain, let them know you are listening. People will likely end up adjusting.
  11. Culture
    • You don’t create a culture. Culture isn’t created. It happens. Culture is by product of consistent behaviors not perks or parties. Culture is actions, not words.
    • Decisions are temporary. Don’t make up problems you don’t have. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas because you feel like it won’t work years from now. Focus on getting product off ground. This is hard enough. Ability to change is big advantage of smaller companies.
    • Skip the rock stars. The environment has more to do with great work. There’s a ton of untapped potential trapped under lame policies, poor direction, and stifling bureaucracy. Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. Give people privacy, workspace, and tools they deserve. Show respect for the people who do the work and how they do it.
    • They’re not thirteen. When you treat people like children you get children’s work. When everything needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers. Boss vs worker relationship screams “I don’t trust you.” People need diversions. Surveillance takes time and money. Failing to trust your employees is awfully expensive.
    • Send people home at 5. You don’t need more hours, you need better hours. When people have something to do at home, they will find ways to become more efficient. Don’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life if you want them to stay around.
    • Don’t scar on the first cut. Policies are organizational scar tissue. They are overreactions to situations unlikely to happen again. This is how bureaucracies are born. Don’t create a policy just because one person did something wrong. Policies are meant for situations that come up repeatedly.
    • Sound like you. Don’t have to copy large companies and sound “professional”. Nothing wrong with sounding your own size Talk to customers as you would friends. Keep communication simple. Read what you write out loud and ask if it sounds like you were actually talking to someone. Make more conversational. Doesn’t need to be formal, just communicate. Write for one person.
    • Four-letter words. Need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, fast. These create black-and-white situations. Tension and conflict are injected unnecessarily. Also avoid everyone, no one, always, and never. Makes finding a solution harder when pitting two absolutes against each other. “We need to add this feature now. We can’t launch without it. Everyone wants it. It’s only one thing so it will be easy. You should be able to do it fast” Hundreds of assumptions. Recipe for disaster.
      • need. very few things actually need to get done. better off saying “what do you think about this?”, “How does this sound?”
      • can’t. Usually you can.
      • easy. used to describe other people’s jobs, but not our own.
    • ASAP is poison. Stop saying it. It’s implied. If you use for everything, nothing is high priority. Most things don’t require that kind of hysteria. Creates artificial stress and leads to burnout. Reserve for real emergencies where there are direct, measurable consequences to inaction.
  12. Conclusion
    • Inspiration is perishable. We all have ideas. Ideas are forever. Inspiration is not. Inspiration is a productivity multiplier. It won’t wait for you, if it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

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