Thursday, January 17, 2013

25 Books: Rework

I believe in thinking big on your birthday. Last week I set a goal to get 25 book recommendations from 25 people who I respect and admire. I didn't ask for their favorite book, but for a book that changed their life.

I did this because I wanted to understand my friends, former teachers, co-workers, and family a bit better. If their was one book that changed their life, maybe it could help me out too.

The first book on my list was Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson. It's a business book that really cuts the crap out of the business model.

Kiley Kmiec, the head honcho at Cosby Sweaters, recommended it to me. In his email he said that the book helped him keep Cosby Sweaters going when he was ready to give it all up last year. (I'm sure glad he didn't.)

I don't read business books. However, I gobbled this book up. The basic premise of Rework is that conventional business wisdom is wrong. The back of the book says "ASAP IS POISON - UNDERDO THE COMPETITION - MEETINGS ARE TOXIC" and a bunch of other shots to popular business maxims.

The book is extremely easy to read and extraordinarily useful. The take away message I got was "cut the bullshit and just do it." I hate inefficient meetings and I hate wasting time. So these messages really resonated with me, and I'm extremely happy that Kiley is putting them into action with Cosby Sweaters. This book is a useful read even if you're not running a business. Much of the advice is useful in everyday situations.

I took a bunch of notes on the book. One particular chapter (each one is less than two pages long) that stood out to me was "Marketing is not a department." Everything a company does is part of how they market themselves.

Late Thursday, I received a message from the CS distribution list earlier today from the head of business development of CS, Mike Johnson. It was from a woman who was looking for a camouflage Oregon Ducks football jersey that we had written about earlier. She was wondering if anyone knew where to buy one. I decided I could either let this email go by the wayside or take a half hour and do some investigating to try and help this woman out. I called up the Nike headquarters and they told me to try the University. I called the bookstore, which transferred me to the athletic department, and I eventually got a hold of the football media relations director. He told me that the jerseys weren't for sale. They were part of a Spring game tradition where football players gave the jerseys to servicemen and women in attendance. It was a cause of former coach Chip Kelly's and he wasn't sure if it would continue. I thanked him for his time.

I called the woman back, told her the story, and gave her the contact info for the athletic department. I didn't find her a jersey, but she was thankful for the information.

Point is, I would like to believe that I just solidified her as a fan of CS. I'm a helpful guy and I was glad I could represent that through CS.

This was a good book to start with for my project. If your looking for a kick in the butt or trying to get out of a rut with your job or school, go read Rework. 

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