Category: Business (page 1 of 3)

The 4-Hour Workweek (Book Summary)

4-Hour Workweek Book CoverThis is my book summary of The 4-Hour Workweek (by Tim Ferriss). Love him or hate him, Tim Ferriss undeniably created a monster self-help franchise when he launched this book. Useful for two reasons: (1) learning to self info products at scale and (2) learning to avoid info products when they are sold to you. The book is available on Amazon.

Summary notes below. All emphasis mine.


“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a more persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

“Once you say you’re going to settle for 2nd, that’s what happens to you in life.” – John F. Kennedy

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

New rules.
1.) Retirement is worst case scenario insurance.
2.) Interest and energy are cyclical. Aim for 1 month of overseas relocation/training for every 2 months of work projects.
3.) Less is not laziness. Be productive instead of busy.
4.) The timing is never right. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.
5.) Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
6.) Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses. Focus on better use of your best weapons.
7.) Money alone is not the solution.
8.) Relative income is more important than absolute income.

Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic!
– fishing is best where the fewest go.

“What would excite me?”

Boredom is the enemy, not some abstract “failure.”

1 place to visit – Berlin, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Hawaii, New Zealand
1 thing to do before you die – trip to space
1 thing to do daily – exercise, stretch (yoga), meditate
1 thing to do weekly – go on a photo shoot
1 thing you’ve always wanted to learn – how to fight (krav maga), cooking good meals

Calculate Target monthly income (TMI) and Target daily income (TDI)

Set 3-month and 6-month goals. Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” – Bruce Lee

Maximum income from minimum number of customers is the primary goal.

Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.

Solution: identify few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.

“Love of bustle is not industry” – Seneca

Am I being productive or just active? Am I inventing things to do just to avoid the important?

Real friends – if someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.

“If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”
– complete next day’s priorities the night before (on small piece of paper) or notebook

Rescue time. Do not multitask.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits.” – Albert Einstein

Read relevant magazines only.

“Will I definitely use this information for something productive and important?”

Practice the art of non-finishing.

Get phone numbers:
“Excuse me. I know this is going to sound strange, but if I don’t ask you now, I’ll be kicking myself for the rest of the day. I’m running to meet a friend, but I think you’re really cute/gorgeous. Could I have your phone number? I’m not a psycho – I promise. You can give me a fake one if you’re not interested.”

“Do your thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.”

Learn to be difficult when it counts. Be assertive, and you’ll receive preferential treatment.

“The best defense is a good offense.”

Check email twice per day, once at noon and once at 4 pm. Move to once per day ASAP.

Use 2 phone lines – urgent and non-urgent.

Don’t encourage people to chit chat and don’t let them chit chat.
– Try to steer people to this order if possible: email à phone à in person meetings
– respond to voice mail with email

Amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as you give them more responsibility and trust them.

Outsourcing life.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can leave alone.” – Thoreau

You must build a system to replace yourself.

Delegation. Unless something is well defined and important, no one should do it. Eliminate before you delegate. Define rules and processes before adding people. Each delegated task must be time consuming AND well defined. Have some fun with it. Don’t be too serious about it.

Income Autopilot

Why limit number of stores that have your product? The more competing stores there are, the faster your product goes extinct.

1.) Pick an affordably reasonable niche market.
– be a member of your target market and don’t speculate what others need or would be willing to buy.
– “If everyone is your customer, no one is your customer”
– More profitable to be a fish in a small pond than an undefined fish in the big pond.

2.) What social/industry/professional groups do you belong to?
– Photographers, Gamers, Scuba Divers, TCKs, Design professionals, Marketing professionals, Engineers

3.) Which of these groups have their own magazines? Find and list the magazines.

4.) Brainstorm – do not invest in products.
– Pick magazines with full page advertising of < 5000$ and > 15,000 readership

Main benefit should be encapsulated in 1 sentence.

Should cost the customer 50$ – 200$. Price high and then justify. Aim for 8-10x markup.
– Should take no more than 3-4 weeks to manufacture.

Product Creation

Information products! Combination of formats: 2 CDs (30-90 mins), 40 page transcription, 10-page quick start guide

– How can you tailor a specific skill to a market? “Niching down” or Think narrow and deep. Ad to what’s being sold in the magazines already.
– Interview experts? Use Skype with Hot Recorder.
– Failure to success story that can be turned into a how-to product for others? Consider problems you’ve overcome in the past, both personal and professional.

  1. PR. Jon 2-3 related trade organizations (online, fast). Read 3 top selling books on the topic – summarize each on one page. Give 1 free 1-3 hour seminar at university, using posters to advertise. Optional: offer to write 1-2 articles for trade magazines. Join ProfNet.

Check: compete.com / quantcast.com / writer’s market / Alibaba / Worldwide brands / Shopster

Hot recorder / Jing / DimDim / PR Leads / HARO / PR Web / ExpertClick

Testing

Don’t ask people if they would buy – ask them to buy!

Yahoo Store / PayPal instead of bank merchant account/authorize.net

1.) Market selection i.e. photographers
2.) Product brainstorm
3.) Microtesting
4.) Rollout and automation

Shopify / Wufoo / LegalZoom à Ejunkie / Lulu

99 Designs, Crowdspring, SkypeIn, FreshBooks (online invoicing), Highrise (online CRM)

MBA – Management by Absence.

“The system is the solution.”

The more options you offer, the more indecision you create, and the fewer orders you’ll receive.

1.) Offer 1-2 purchase options (i.e. basic or premium) and no more.
2.) Don’t offer multiple shipping options. Offer 1 fast one and charge a premium.
3.) Eliminate phone ordering à everything online.
4.) Don’t offer international shipments.

Not all customers are created equal. Offer low priced products instead of free products to get contact info.

Lose-win guarantee. 110% guaranteed to satisfy customer.

How to look Fortune 500 (Perceived size DOES MATTER):
1.) Don’t be the CEO/Founder, Be Director of Sales, Director of Business Development, etc.
2.) Put multiple e-mail / contact #s on the website
3.) Angel.com – high profile virtual receptionist
4.) Get PO Box.

Liberation

“It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.”

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most mean dread it.”

“If you must play: decide (first) on the rules of the game, the stakes and quitting time.”

“Success? Simple. Double your rate of failure.” – Thomas Watson, IBM

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Gandhi

Cheap Airfare:
1.) Use CC with reward points for ad & manufacturing expenses
2.) Purchase either 3 months in advance or last minute (last 4-5 days prior to departure), departure and return Tues/Wed/Thurs
3.) Consider splitting it up into a few flights

Minimum Pack list:
1.) 1 week of clothing for the season, 1 semiformal shirt/pants for customs. Think t shirts, shorts, multipurpose jeans
2.) Backup photocopies of all important documents
3.) Debit/CC/$200 in local currency
4.) Small cable bike lock for baggage
5.) e-Dictionaries for target languages
6.) 1 broad strokes travel guide

Filling the Void

“People say we’re seeking a meaning of life. I think what we’re truly seeking is the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

You have to find a focus – someone or something to do.

If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.

“What a man needs is the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.”

Life exists to be enjoyed and the most important thing is to feel good about yourself.

Quick answer: continual learning & service.
– Language acquisition and learning new skills (anything that gets you out of the house)
– Service is an attitude – find the cause or vehicle that interests you most and make no apologies.

1.) Try doing nothing. Slow down – simply cut out anything nonproductive. Meditation and yoga.

2.) Make an anonymous donation to the service organization of your choice.

3.) Take a mini retirement in combination with local volunteering (6+ months)

4.) Revisit and reset dreamlines:
– what are you good at? What could you be the best at?
– What makes you happy? What excites you?
– What makes you feel accomplished and good about yourself?
– What do you enjoy sharing or experiencing with other people?

5.) Consider testing new part/full time vocations. Recapturing excitement of your childhood is required.

Top Mistakes of the New Rich

1.) Losing sight of your dreams and falling into work for work’s sake.

2.) Micromanaging and e-mailing to fill time.

3.) Handling problems your coworkers/outsourcers could handle.

4.) Chasing customers when you have enough money.

5.) Working where you live, sleep, or should relax.

6.) Not performing a thorough 80/20 every 2-3 weeks for personal and business life.

7.) Striving for perfection instead of great or good enough.

8.) Blowing small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work.

9.) Making non-time sensitive issues urgent in order to justify work.

10.) Viewing 1 project/job/product as the be-all end-all of your whole experience
– when in doubt or overwhelmed, do a 80/20 for business and for relationships

11.) Ignoring the social rewards of life.

The only rules and limits are the ones we set for ourselves.

Be bold, don’t worry about what people think.

– What is one goal, if completed, would change everything?
– What is the most urgent thing right now that you “must” or “should” do?

Tips:
– don’t expect large/costly favors from strangers
– impress only the right people – those you want to emulate
– slow meals = life
– money doesn’t change you. It reveals who you are when you no longer have to be nice.
– Fuck the naysayers. There are no statues devoted to critics.
– eat a high protein breakfast within 30 minutes of waking and go for a 10-20 minute walk outside, bouncing a tennis ball
– usually better to keep old resolutions, instead of making new ones.

  1. Set rules for yourself so you can automate your decision making as much as possible.
  2. Don’t postpone decisions just to avoid awkward conversations.
  3. Set true limits (< 20 minutes to make decision) and option limits (3 options).
  4. Routine enables variation when it’s most valuable
  5. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret.

Habits to Stop Now:
1.) Don’t answer phone calls from unrecognized numbers.
2.) Don’t email first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
3.) Don’t agree to meeting w/out a clear agenda and end time. Don’t let people ramble.
4.) Don’t check email constantly.
5.) Don’t over communicate with low profit, high maintenance customers.
6.) Don’t work more to fix overwhelmingness – prioritize.
7.) Don’t carry a cellphone 24/7
8.) Don’t expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships/activities should.

Margin Manifesto – How to Double Profits

Profit in the least time with the least effort. Not with more customers/revenues/employees/offices.

1.) Niche is the new big
– who you portray in marketing doesn’t represent who buys it – it’s the demographic that people aspire to be or belong to. No one aspires to be bland average, so if you water it down to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one.

2.) What gets measured gets managed – measure everything

3.) Pricing before product – plan distribution first

4.) Less is more – lessen distribution to increase profit (exclusivity)
– Partner with 1 or 2 key distributors – controlled distribution allows you to negotiate better terms – less discounting, pre-payment, preferential placement, marketing support

5.) Net zero – create demand vs. offering terms
– don’t offer terms! Get end-user demand, force resellers/distributors to pay up.

6.) Repetition is usually redundant – good (well designed, well-targeted) advertising works the first time
– Cancel everything that can’t be justified with traceable ROI

7.) Limit downside to ensure upside – sacrifice margin for safety
– scale carefully, making sure you’re staying profitable as you scale up

8.) Negotiate Late – make others negotiate against themselves
– never make a first offer when purchasing – be silent

9.) Hyperactivity vs. Productivity – 80/20 and Pareto’s Law
– just duplicate all our strong areas instead of fixing your weaknesses

10.) The customer is not always right – “fire” high maintenance customers

11.) Deadlines before details – set reliability before capability. Skills are overrated. Get decent products, delivered on time!


Read other reviews and notes on the book’s Amazon page.

Rework (Book Summary)

Rework Book CoverThis is my book summary of Rework (by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson). This is a great business book for those interested in running simple and profitable companies. A breath of fresh air in a world obsessed with billion dollar startup “unicorns” funded by millions in Venture Capital. The book is available on Amazon.

Summary notes below. All emphasis mine.


“Ignore the real world” The real world isn’t a place—it’s an excuse.

Business guesses, financial guesses, strategic guesses.

Don’t be insecure about small business – if it’s sustainable and profitable, be proud! Don’t be a “workaholic.”

You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.

You want your customers to say: “this makes my life better.” Don’t sit around. Do it first.

Make something YOU want to use = best way. This lets you design what you know – and know if it’s good or not.

If you’re solving someone else’s problem, you’re constantly stabbing in the dark. When you solve your own problem, the light comes on.

Scratch your own itch and expose a huge market of people who need exactly what you need.
– This lets you fall in love with what you’re making. You know the problem & the value of its solution immediately
– It better be something you care about. (You’ll be working on it for years to come!)

Ideas are cheap and plentiful! Nothing happens until you DO something.

Start NOW, because the “perfect” time never arrives.

Keep in mind WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. You need to believe in something, have a backbone!

You need to know what you’re willing to fight for – and then you need to show the world.

When you stand for something, decisions are obvious. When you don’t know, everything becomes an argument or debate.

You need less than you think.

Start a business, not a startup.

Building to flip is building to flop. Selling out won’t make you happy. Don’t let a good thing get away.

Embrace constraints – they are advantages in disguise. Make do with what you’ve got. No room to waste, be creative.

Build half a product, not a half assed product. Start chopping. Cut out stuff that’s merely good.

START.

Start at the epicenter – the stuff you absolutely HAVE to do. Which part of your equation can’t be removed? When you find it, you will know. Everything else you do depends on that foundation.

Ignore the details early on – you’ll figure them out later.

Making the call is making progress à decide on it and move forward. Commit to making decisions.

You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow.

Be a curator – what makes a museum is the stuff NOT on the walls. Remove, simply, streamline.

It’s about quality.

Throw less at the problem – you’ll be forced to make tough calls and sort out what truly matters.

Focus on what won’t change. Things that people are going to want today AND 10 years from now. Those are the things you should invest in. Fashion fades away – focus on permanent features. Examples:
– Amazon – fast/free shipping, great selection, friendly return policies, affordable prices
– Japanese automakers – reliability, affordability, practicality
– 37signals – speed, simplicity, ease of use, clarity

“It’s not about the bike/camera/guitar.” What really matters is how to get customers and make money.

Sell your by-products – you always end up with something else in the process. There’s something you haven’t thought about. Lumber industry sells “waste” (sawdust) for a profit. 37signals wrote book as part of the process = byproduct.

Launch now. Just make sure the product is actually good. Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.

Illusion of agreement. Get the chisel out and start making something real. Everything else is just a distraction.

Reasons to quit:
– Why are you doing this? What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it?
– What problem are you solving? Make sure you’re not solving an imaginary problem.
– Is this actually useful? Cool wears off—useful never does
– Are you adding value? Value is about balance. Make sure you’re not subtracting value.
– Will this change behaviour?
– Is there an easier way?
– What could you be doing instead?
– Is it really worth it?

Interruption is the enemy of productivity.
– Get alone time. Use e-mail (non-disruptive communication). Your day is under siege by interruptions.

Meetings are toxic. Have a clear agenda, as few people as possible, have specific problem and end with a solution.

Good enough is fine. Deliver maximum efficiency with minimal effort. Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane tasks.

Quick wins. Momentum fuels motivation. If you aren’t motivated by what you’re working on, it won’t be very good. The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’ll finish it. The quicker it is in the hands of customers, the better it will be. And better off you’ll be!

Don’t be a hero. If it’s taking too long, quit. Worst thing you can do is waste more time.

Go to sleep. Or else you’ll be stubborn, lack creativity, diminished morale, irritability.

Your estimates suck. Break the big thing into smaller things – will be easier to estimate.

Long lists don’t get done. They are guilt trips. Have 1 single most important thing to do at a time.

Competition

Don’t copy. You have to understand why something works or why it’s the way I tis. If you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You keep making a knockoff – that’s no way to live. Be influenced, but don’t steal.

Decommoditize your product. How to prevent copying – make YOU part of the product or service.
Make it something no one else can offer. Zappos: customer service that can’t be replicated.

Pour yourself into the product – how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, how you deliver it.

Pick a fight. Being the anti-___________ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.
– Audi: fresh luxury alternative to old, tired BMW/benz/rolls
– 7up: the uncola
– Apple: Mac vs. PC

Having an enemy gives you a good story to tell customers. Take a stand. People like conflict. They take sides. Passions are ignited. Great way to get people to take notice.

Underdo your competition.
– i.e. boom of fixed gear bicycles
– i.e. Flip Mino – ultrasimple compact camcorder. Only does a few things & does them well.
– Don’t shy away from the fact that your product/service does less. Highlight it, be proud of it.
– Sell it as aggressively as competitors sell their feature lists.

Who cares what they’re doing? Don’t worry about them.
– If you’re planning the “iPod killer,” you’re already dead. You can’t out-Apple Apple (their rules). You need to redefine the rules, not just build something slightly better. Even if you lose, it’s better to go down fighting for what you believe in than to imitate others.

“If I’d listened to customers, I would have given them a faster horse.” – Ford

Evolution – Say “NO.” It’s easy to say yes to yet another feature, an overly optimistic deadline, a mediocre design. Make sure your product stays right for you. So you can always say: “I think you’ll love it because I love it.”

Let your customers outgrow you. Don’t just tailor your product/service to 1 customer.
– Small, simple, basic needs are constant. There’s an endless supply of customers who want/need exactly that.
– There are always more people NOT using your product than people who are.
– People/selections change. You can’t be everything to everyone!
– Be true to a TYPE of customer than to 1 customer with changing needs.

Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority.
– Enthusiasm you have for an idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth. Just write them down, and then evaluate their priority with a calm mind.

Be at-home good. Have a product that’s more impressive when people actually use it. And they tell their friends about it, too. You can’t paint over a bad experience with good advertising/marketing.

Don’t write it down. How should you keep track of what your customers want? You don’t. The really important stuff doesn’t go away. If you forget it, it’s not very important.

PROMOTION

Welcome obscurity. Try new things, experiment. Obscurity protects your ego and preserves your confidence. You’ll miss the days of obscurity later on. Now is the time to take risks without worrying about embarrassing yourself.

Build an audience. All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. Most fortunate have audiences.

“You waste half your ad budget. You just don’t know what half.”

Get readers to your blog. When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention – they give it to you. This is a huge advantage.

Speak, write, blog, tweet. Share information that’s valuable. You’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience. Then, when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening.

Out-teach your competition. Most businesses focus on selling or servicing, not teaching. Teaching is your chance to out-maneuver big companies. Big companies are obsessed with secrecy and lawyers.

Emulate chefs. The greatest chefs share everything they k now. They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows. What’s your recipe? Your cookbook? What can you tell the world that’s informative, educational, and promotional?

Go behind the scenes. Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business works. People are always curious about how things are made. They want to know how and why people make decisions. Letting people see behind the curtain changes your relationship with them – they’ll see you as human beings. They’ll develop understanding and appreciation for what you do.

Nobody likes plastic flowers. Keep things clean but not sterile. Don’t be afraid to show your flaws – imperfections are real and people respond to real.
– Show the world what you’re really like.
– There’s a beauty to imperfection. Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.
– It’s OK if it’s not perfect. Tell about your shortcomings. Reveal things that others won’t’ discuss.

Press Releases are spam – a generic pitch is spam.
– Instead, call someone. Write a personal note. Do something meaningful. Be remarkable. Stand out. Be unforgettable. That’s how you get the best coverage.

Forget about the WSJ – for direct, instant activity, go after niche bloggers – that’s where news comes from anyway.

Emulate drug dealers – make the product so good that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand. You want an easily digestible introduction to what you sell.

Don’t be afraid to give a little away, as long as you have something else to sell. People will come back for more – if you’re not confident, you haven’t created a good enough product.

Marketing is not a department. Marketing is something your company is doing 24/7/365. It’s the sum total of everything you do, not a few individual events.

Myth of the overnight sensation. Trade that dream for slow, measured growth. You have to grind it I out. You have to do it for a long time before other people notice. Start building today. Then keep at it. You’ll chuckle when people tell about your “overnight success.”

Hiring. Try doing the job yourself first. Learn first. Be intimately involved, otherwise you’ll be in the dark. Don’t’ hire for pleasure – hire to kill pain. You don’t need as many people as you think. Right time to hire is when there’s more work than you can handle. That’s when you’re hurting.

Don’t invent work/positions just for great people. If you don’t find someone, don’t hire.

Resumes are ridiculous – check the cover letter first. If the first paragraph sucks, chances are… 5 years of irrelevance. 6-12 months is enough to learn it. Measure by how well they’ve been doing it.

Forget about formal education. Don’t get caught up hiring people from the “best” schools.

Delegators are dead weight – everybody works. Delegators love meetings (where they feel important).

Hire managers of one. Someone who’s capable of building from scratch and seeing it through.

Hire great writers. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Writing is the currency for good ideas.

The best are everywhere. Geography doesn’t matter. Hire the best talent, wherever it is.

Test-drive employees. Probation period.

Damage Control. Own your bad news. When something goes wrong, make sure it’s YOU who tells the story. There are no more secrets. You can’t hide anymore. Be open, honest, public and responsive. “No comment” is not an option. Highest-ranking person should comment. Apologize the way a real person would. Honestly be concerned about the fate of your customers.

Speed changes everything. Answer as quickly as you can. Offer a personal response or “let me do some research and get back to you.”

Put everyone on the front lines. Everyone on your team should be connected to your customers. That way, they can feel the hurt your customers are experiencing. No one should be shielded from direct criticism.

Take a deep breath. People are creatures of habit – they push back/complain when there are changes. People will adjust eventually. And they’ll probably prefer the new way, too.

Culture. You don’t create a culture. It happens (not instantly). It’s the product of consistent behaviour. Culture is action, not words. You can’t force it.

Decisions are temporary. What if? Don’t make up problems that don’t exist yet. Optimize for now and worry about the future later. Ability to change course is one of the biggest advantages of being small.

Skip the rock stars. Build a rock star environment instead. Trust, autonomy, responsibility. Result of giving people the privacy, workspace and tools they deserve. Great environments show respect for the people who do the work and how they do it. They’re not 13 – don’t treat employees like children.

Send people home at 5. You need BETTER hours, not more hours. They get work done at the office because they have somewhere else to be. SO they use their times wisely. Don’t expect the job to someone’s entire life. Don’t create useless policies for no reason. That’s for bureaucracies.

Sound like you. Sound your own size.
– Instead of monetization and transparency, talk about making money and being honest.
– Write to be read – make it conversational. Communicate!
– When you’re writing, write to that 1 person. Don’t write to the mob – leads to generalities and awkwardness

Don’t use 4 letter words: need, must, can’t, easy, just, only and fast.

These words create black and white situations, which lead to tension/conflict.
– Watch out for: everyone, no one, always, never.

ASAP is poison. Reserve your emergency languages for true emergencies.

Conclusion

Ideas are immortal, inspiration isn’t.

If you want to do something, do it now.

If you’re inspired, just do it now.

Inspiration is a new thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator, magical.

If it grabs you, grab it right back.


Read other reviews and notes on the book’s Amazon page.