The first book I read this year, and it was good. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson managed to balance the brevity and depth of their thoughts and keep their vision clear.
Instead of bringing new ideology or another corporate bullshit standard, they offer common sense as a universal tool—like a Swiss knife—to make decisions and handle chaos in any situation.
Their book is an easy-to-digest and ready-to-go manual for those who finally want to make a change at work and feel good about it rather than stressed, anxious, and humiliated.
Here are my ten takeaways from it:
- Bury the hustle, go with calm. Calm is meetings as a last resort. Calm is asynchronous first, real-time second.
- No goals. Goals are fake. Nearly all of them are artificial targets set for the sake of setting targets.
- Deliver updates in six-week cycles, no sprints. Fix a deadline and budget, flex the scope.
- Do good work. Most of the time it’s enough to stand out.
- Less is more. Stop chasing many and much, choose just one target, and aim.
- Protect your focus. Depth, not breadth, is where mastery is often found.
- Productivity is a myth. Filling every moment with something to do is all it’s about these days. Dump it.
- No public calendars. Time is the most valuable thing we have. We don’t have the right to decide how our teammates should spend it. We may think it’s a meeting, they consider it’d better be an email.
- No all-nigters and 80-hours weeks. Sleep, eat, and rest enough. In the long run, work is not more important than sleep.
- Hire only those who fit your mindset. No rock stars and fancy titles would do if you don’t feel right about the person applying for a position.
I came to most of these ideas while running my design studio. It was good to see that an ocean away there’s a company run by similar ideas and principles.
Check out the book at 37signals' website →
I’ve been in commercial writing since 2017. I’ve come all the way from a freelancer to an owner of a design studio.
Here are 25 principles I’ve crafted over 5 years of my career. They’ll help you increase your value as a writer, and, therefore, your profit.
- Before you start writing a copy, think about how not to write one.
- Your text will not change the world. It’s just another text.
- Don’t play with the words, don’t move them around. It won’t make much of a difference.
- Don’t grind your copies to perfection. Publish fast, then polish. Perfect things exist only in your mind.
- Publish your post while it burns you from the inside and excites you.
- Hire a proofreader so that you wouldn’t have to argue with a client about spelling and punctuation.
- Take responsibility for the result you provide, not for separate words, sentences, or a number of characters.
- Ask questions, shut up and listen to your client carefully. They have all the answers.
- Don’t be an asshole: don’t go missing and warn your clients when troubles arise.
- Don’t teach your client how to write, and don’t be stubborn as a ram.
- Don’t argue about your unique vision of writing and style. No one is interested in it. Solve the problem and don’t try to show who’s the boss here.
- Leave emotions behind when you enter a Zoom meeting. Reschedule if you are having an off-day. Recover, then talk.
- Don’t grovel and don’t settle for bad decisions. Defend your working routine, processes and principles.
- Always work on a contract and take an advance payment.
- There is no such thing as an average price. Only a fair price. A fair price is the one that suits you and your client.
- It’s not easy to make a living on writing. To make more, sell your service and solutions, not a copy or a number of characters.
- Develop skills in related areas: layout, management, design, code, typography, illustration, negotiation, law. They give you leverage.
- Never work on urgent tasks. You won’t make much money, but you’re guaranteed to eat some shit and be a scapegoat in the end.
- Work only on the projects you wouldn’t be ashamed to put in your portfolio.
- Don’t get into a project with a bad context, especially out of need. You won’t be happy with the money made there.
- Remember that you’re great. You make a living using your head. Most people never dare to do it.
- When you don’t see a way out, go back to the initial brief and the task your client brought in. Usually, you’ll find an answer or a hint there.
- See all projects through to completion. In hard times remind yourself why you got into this project and keep the goal in mind like a lighthouse in the storm.
- Take care of your health: sleep at night, exercise, eat well. Make 10,000 steps a day, eat fruit, vegetables, and greens, drink more water and less coffee.
- Be honest and frank with yourself. All problems begin with a lie.
This year I’m going to talk to the authors, writers, and editors, even more, to fill the manifesto with new principles that I consider crucial and useful. I hope that in five years, when the fifth version of the manifesto comes out, we’ll be able to trace how the profession of the writer has changed.
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