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 →
Before making an appointment, I ask myself a few questions. Is it possible to do what I’m going to do without a meeting? Is it possible to solve this without another Zoom call? How else can I accomplish this task?
In half of the cases, I figure out that a meeting can be replaced with a letter, a scheduled message, a screencast, a voice message, or an old-fashioned phone call.
❌ Situations when meetings are not necessary:
- to get an unambiguous “yes” or “no” answer
- to update the status of ongoing tasks
- to request information
- to ask for or give feedback on a design layout
- to make edits and suggestions to a draft
- to make onboarding for a new admin panel of a website
✅ Situations when meetings are necessary:
- to hold the initial meeting of the project
- to present a logo, a website, or other deliverables from the contract
- to resolve a personal conflict among parties of the project
- to share knowledge and experience: one-on-one meetings, team training
- to discuss issues that require a lot of clarification: briefing, cost estimate, agreement
This principle helps to understand whether a meeting is needed or not. If my email does more harm than good, a meeting will be a better option. For example, if there is increasing friction in the project, you should not dispute via email. Discuss disagreements face to face, this way it will be much easier for you to calm the interlocutor and resolve the conflict.
Though if the text allows you to solve the problem without putting the project and the relationship with a client at risk, you may cancel a meeting and find another way to get the job done. For example, it is more productive to comment on a new design layout in Figma and then hold a call on demand to discuss the feedback you gave rather than stare at the layout you’ve never seen before.
The main secret to making more time is to reduce the number of meetings. Half of the meetings people have are fucking pointless and unnecessary.
Good leaders are always the last to speak on a meeting. They let the other team members share ideas and feel appreciated for their opinions, and only then they make a decision.
Bad leaders never care for a another opinion. They’re too busy enjoying their power of a leadership. Team members with this type of leaders simply become indifferent to the decisions their leader makes. They end up feeling burned out and useless.
For leaders it’s important to see the whole picture, not just fragments of it. If a leader speaks first he or she doesn’t let team members have their say. Such a leader will never learn what real picture looks like!
Therefore, always be the last to speak.