REWORK – Insights Part #1 – Takedowns, Go and Progress

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Rita Mae Brown said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you truly want to improve your business, you must open your mind to new ideas and different ways of doing things.

First, I should also state that the insights shared here are copyright Jason Fried & David Heinmeier, the co-authors of REWORK and the founders of 37 Signals.

I got REWORK from a team member shortly before he transitioned to a new firm. Thank you, Josiah! I should be the first to say, however, that I don’t agree with everything in the book.

The thing I do support is two-fold. First, the authors are candid and shoot straight. They say  things that need to be said. Secondly, they consistently force the reader to reflect on how stagnant or reactive they are vs. how proactive their firm truly is. Today we will talk about several themes of the book in the areas of takedowns, go (or action) and progress. I am sharing what hit home most with me personally. If any of the below insights strike a chord with you, I would encourage you to pick up a copy. Though I believe the book is helpful for any entrepreneur with any size business, I do believe that is speaks most to small businesses, which I personally have a heart for a fellow small business owner of Sharp Innovations, Inc. and life/business coach with Live with Purpose Coaching. The following are some great points taken directly from the book.


  • What do you really learn from mistakes?  You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that?  You still don’t know what you should do next (pg. 16).
  • Plans are inconsistent with improvisation.  And you have to be able to improvise.  You have to be able to pick up opportunities that come along (pg. 19).
  • Plans more than a few pages long just wind up as fossils in your file cabinet (pg. 20).
  • Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Grow slow and see what feels right (pg. 22).
  • Remember, once you get big, it’s really hard to shrink without firing people, damaging morale, and changing the entire way you do business (pg. 23).
  • Lock in lots of expenses and you force yourself into building a complex business – one that’s a lot more difficult and stressful to run (pg.  23).
  • They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force (pg. 25). (Workaholics)
  • You don’t need an MBA, a certificate, a fancy suit, a briefcase, or an above-average tolerance for risk.  You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started (pg. 28).


  • You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice (pg. 31).
  • The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use (pg. 34).
  • Best of all, this “solve your own problem” approach lets you fall in love with what you’re makings.  You know the problem and the value of its solution intimately.  There’s no substitute for that (pg. 36).
  • We’re not talking about all-nighters or sixteen-hour days – we’re talking about squeezing out a few extra hours a week.  That’s enough time to get something going.  Once you do that, you’ll learn whether your excitement and interest is real or just a passing phase.  The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough (pg. 40).
  • We’re willing to lose some customers if it means that others love our products intensely (pg. 44).
  • But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious (pg. 44).
  • Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down.  It’s about believing it and living it (pg.48).
  • Your priorities are out of whack if you’re thinking about getting out before you even dive in (pg. 59).
  • You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship (pg. 59).
  • The more expensive it is to make a change, the less likely you are to make it (pg. 62).


  • We make sure to have only one or two people working on a product at a time.  And we always keep features to a minimum.  Boxing ourselves in this way prevents us from creating bloated products (pg. 68).
  • Writers eliminate good pages to make a great book.  We cut this book in half between the next-to-last and final drafts.  From 57,000 words to about 27,000 words. Trust us, it’s better for it (pg. 70).
  • You want to get into the rhythm of making choices.  When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale (pg. 77).
  • You don’t have to live with a decision forever.  If you make a mistake, you can correct it later (pg. 78).
  • It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.  So constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline.  Be a curator (pg. 80).
  • The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change.  Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now.  Those are the things you should invest in (pg. 85).
  • The content is what matters.  You can spend tons on fancy equipment, but if you’ve got nothing to say… well, you’ve got nothing to say (pg. 88).
  • Sell your by-products
    • There’s probably something you haven’t thought about that you could sell too (pg. 91).
    • When you impose a deadline, you gain clarity.  It’s the best way to get to that gut instinct that tells you, “We don’t need this (pg. 93).”
    • The best way to get there is through iterations.  Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real (pg. 94).

So what within your business should you consider REWORKING? If you have any questions about any of these insights or how to adapt them to your world, feel free to contact me or the authors.

I help my coaching clients focus on important life lessons like these so they can achieve better balance both personally and professionally. If you’d like to find out more about my life coaching company, Live With Purpose Coaching, feel free to contact me at (717)798-3596.Visit for more resources.

God Bless,


* feel free to contact me personally with any questions or comments.


Fried, Jason and David Heinemeir Hanson. Rework. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010. Print.