I’m a huge fan of the team over at 37 Signals. They bleed simple brilliance. David Heinemeier Hansson gave one of my favorite talks ever at Startup School 08 and in May, Jason Fried delivered another gem at Big Omaha 2009.
Everyone should make time to watch Jason’s video, but if you can’t carve out 20 minutes my summary is below.
Failure is not cool
The phrase “fail early, fail often” is overused. Failure is actually not necessary. Failure is not a character-building thing and it’s not a prerequisite to success. Focus on the things that are going right and parlay that.
Planning is overrated.
Business plans are just guesses. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. What matters is what you’re doing right now. You know more about something after you’re done with it.
Interruption is the enemy of collaboration.
A big open loft space does not necessarily mean more collaboration and higher productivity. With so many interruptions, workdays become work moments.
Try this in your company or department. Every Thursday, nobody can talk to each other. Email and IM and other tools are fine but no talking. See if it’s the most productive day that week. Or that month.
You create valuable byproducts.
When you make something, you make something else. We are all making byproducts.
When building houses, the sawdust created from all the lumber was initially thought of as waste. Then, people found multiple useful applications for it and it ended up being a valuable byproduct, sold for money.
When 37 Signals built Basecamp, the byproduct was Ruby on Rails and they didn’t even know it at the time.
Sometimes the valuable byproduct is knowledge.
Share like a chef.
Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay. They share what they do on TV. They tell you exactly what ingredients they use and show you step-by-step how to do what they do. If you want to do it at home, you can buy their cookbook for a fraction of the cost of a single meal.
This doesn’t make them less money, it makes them more. More people know about them. More people buy the cookbooks. More people eat at the restaurants.
Traditional business thinking would shut down this blatant sharing of intellectual capital.
The best thing you can do is share your knowledge.
What is your cookbook? Publish it. It helps you…
Build an audience.
Every company has customers. Great companies have fans. At the least, you need an audience.
90,000 people read the 37 Signals blog everyday. It takes time to build but it doesn’t cost them a penny to reach this large captive audience.
Focus on the things that don’t change.
What are the core, important things in your business that don’t change?
Amazon invests in distribution. Shipping. Customer service. Price. These things will be important to their business in 10 years.
37 Signals makes web-based software. They focus on making it fast, easy and usable. It may not be sexy but that is what will be important to their business in 10 years.
Ideas are immortal. Inspiration is perishable.
We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal.
Inspirations however, are like fresh fruit or milk. They are very perishable. If you’re lucky enough to be inspired, do it. Do it now. The most energy you’ll ever have about an idea is at the beginning. You can’t sustain it.
Thanks to Jason and the whole crew over at 37 Signals. Keep leading, guys.