Friday’s 4-1-1, Rework Style

Happy Friday, everyone! Man, am I glad it’s here and tomorrow, I can relax with my family. It’s been one of those weeks. (Don’t I say that every week?)

I’m currently reading a couple of different books at the same time. I’ve never operated this way. I’m a one-book-at-a-time type of person – really I’m a one-thing-at-a-time type person as much as I can help it. So, I don’t know how I fell into this pattern of multi-reading. But it’s not bad. I’m keeping things straight in my mind and enjoying the pieces of the books that I read when I read them. The two that I’m deep in are Talent is Overrated and Prince of Thieves (the novel that The Town is based on). One business, one novel. It’s a nice combo.

ReworkBefore last week, I had another book in the mix – Rework by the guys at 37 Signals (you might be familiar with their PM software, Basecamp.) Aside from it being a quick read on my plane rides, with the pictures and big text, I really enjoyed the anecdotes that it presented. So, I thought it would be a fun Friday 4-1-1 to take my favorite and share here.

1.  Tone is in your fingers – It’s not about what tools you use, it’s about what you do with them.  Fancy gear can help, but the truth is your tone comes from you….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….It’s playing what you’ve got as well as you can.  Your tone is in your fingers. I’m not going to tie everything back to this particular channel (OOH) through these anecdotes, but this one resonated with me on various levels.  First, I firmly believe that everyone has unique gifts to offer.  It’s about putting people in positions where those gifts can shine, and in all cases, doing what you can to pull those out of people.  The tools that we use are just that – tools.  The substance comes from the individual.  In the case of OOH, as I’ve said here many times, it’s not about the “screen,” it’s about the content that consumers engage with outside of their homes that drives them deeper into a brand experience.  The experience is the thing.  Not the screen.

2.  Start making something –  I’m not much of a talker (contrary to how this blog represents me, if it represents me otherwise!)  I’m much more of a doer.  At work and not at work, I don’t like to talk about things.  I like to do things.  So, I appreciate execution and results more than I do talk and ideas.  Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that, an idea.  And everyone’s got one of those…Ideas are cheap and plentiful…The real question is how you execute. I believe that we can make a lot out of a little in most cases.  Resourcefulness is something that I appreciate out of anyone.  Perhaps this is why I have the view on OOH that I have?

3.  Good enough is fine – I think this idea is counterintuitive to those who expect to produce GREAT work day in and day out.  I once heard, “Good is the worst enemy of Great.” And I like that. I think, overall, if people set their expectations to deliver “good” work, they are short-changing everyone involved. The expectation should always be to produce and deliver greatness. But I digress. This is more about complicated vs. simple, not necessarily great vs. good. There is, however, a perception that complicated solutions are “great” and simple solutions are only “good.” A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions.  Flexing your intellectual muscles can be intoxicating…A better idea: Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.  Judo solutions are all about getting the most out of doing the least…When good enough gets the job done, go for it…And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later. I talk to my team a lot about “navigating the grey space” – this is part of that. We are usually put in the position to make quick decisions. It’s important to know the effect of those decisions, now and in the future, and not everything should be (or needs) a quick decision – but I love the concept of not over-thinking things that don’t need it. I also heard once, “it’s easy to make something hard.  It’s hard to make something easy.” Perfect.

4.  Nobody likes plastic flowers – The business world is full of “professionals” who wear the uniform and try to seem perfect…Don’t be afraid to show your flaws…Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to sound and how you’re supposed to act.  Show the world what you’re really like…There’s a beauty to imperfection. If you bring your mind and yourself, you should be good in everything you do. You have a unique perspective that no one else brings to the table. You shouldn’t ever lose that “trying” to be something that the man “expects”.

“Uh-huh” – Inspiration is perishable –  I try to find inspiration all around me, but inevitably, in the grind of life, it’s often hard to find. It takes work to be open and aware of things that we find to inspire us. To me, inspiration is key to fulfillment. Without it, we would just be an empty mess. We all have ideas.  Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn’t last forever is inspiration.  Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk:  It has an expiration date…When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours…Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you…If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

“Duh” – Years of irrelevance – We live and operate in a world, particularly in business, where everything changes daily – literally. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with, much less master, anything related to technology and how it connects us to each other and the world around us. To log the infamous 10,000 hours to any one skill seems more and more difficult to do in today’s environment. That’s why I think it’s important to look for an understand the intangibles that people around you offer. There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years.  The real difference comes from the individual’s dedication, personality, and intelligence…How long someone’s been doing it is overrated.  What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.

I really found a lot great insights and anecdotes in this book and these are only 6 of them. So, if you like some of the things I highlighted here, I think you’d really enjoy the entire book. I’m not on board with everything in it, but definitely more things that not. It’s a recommend from me, for what it’s worth. If any of you have read it, I’d love to hear what you thought – your favorite or not-so-favorite anecdotes. Hit me here or on Twitter!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

4 thoughts on “Friday’s 4-1-1, Rework Style

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  2. Kyle Porter

    I read Rework on a flight yesterday thanks to your recommendation. I also found it to be insightful and worth the time. A resounding theme of the book is how informality and colloquialism have made a major push & impact in the business environment. Acting all “businessy” just doesn’t get things done. Or as the author put it: “Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real.”

    In the digital signage business, this comes up A LOT. A player is down, the OS blew up, the screen is out, the content sucks…there are a lot of things that can go wrong in a DOOH operation. Its wise not to hide from them & cover them up. Customers dont want that. If you own up to issues and share the truth, you can embrace/fix the problem and everyone can grow from it.

    Other topics that I believed in are the ideas on hiring, the “manager of one”, marketing through earned media and not through spammy press releases, and teaching + sharing your secrets. His take on meetings (they suck) seems pretty right on as well.

    I probably dont agree that geographically displaced teams can be more effective than locally collaborative but the the author does make some good points with regards to focus and the negative impact of being interrupted.

    Its an all around startup and total business package book. Valuable imo to anyone who cares enough to want to positively impact their company or start one themselves.

    I’ve collated my kindle highlights in a google doc here:

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention Mike and I look forward to future recommendations.

  3. Mike Cearley Post author

    Kyle-thanks for your comments and I’m glad you found the book as valuable as I did. Your highlights doc is solid. Great stuff for anyone who is open to getting better and/or new perspectives. I have shared it with many of my coworkers, too. I like the idea of just stripping things down to their simplest form, even yourself, and just getting stuff done. I love what you said about the digital signage biz. I think if people see that you’re open, that you’re real, and that you want to produce great work, it builds trust in a way that being perfect or right all the time can’t do. Very nice. Thanks, again, for your comments!

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