2017 Q4 - Perennial Seller, Deep Work (2), ReWork (2)

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Think of this as an excellent follow-up of Holiday's Growth Hacker Marketing mentioned in a prior Quarterly. Ryan covers the entire process of marketing from crafting your mindset to crafting your product and the utility of marketing platforms. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • The decisions and behaviors that bring you to creating the product—everything you do before you sit down to build whatever it is you’re building—trump any individual marketing decisions, no matter how attention-grabbing they turn out to be.

  • Paul Graham explains, “The best way to increase a startup’s growth rate is to make the product so good people recommend it to their friends.”

  • “Lots of people,” as the poet and artist Austin Kleon puts it, “want to be the noun without doing the verb.”

  • If you’re to create something powerful and important, you must at the very least be driven by an equally powerful inner force.

  • Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, reminds his employees: “Focus on the things that don’t change.”

And, as a testament to never giving up: "WD-40 is named after the forty attempts it took its creators to nail the working formula."


Deep Work by Cal Newport

I've read this book twice; both times were on my Kindle. I've come to this habit of filtering books via a Kindle-read before committing to a physical copy. There's an essential feel to this book. It's as if the book is spilling a secret hidden right in front of our eyes. That secret is that "a deep life is a good life". The first half of the book is geared toward explaining the difference between Deep Work and Shallow Work, as well as convincing you that Deep Work is worth your while. Once you're convinced, he moves on to the second half of the book which focuses on implementation of Deep Work strategies. One of the keys to performing Deep Work is ritualizing it into self-reinforcing habits. Cal provides us with a 4 Discipline Framework to develop a Deep Work habit:

  1. Focus on the wildly important

  2. Act on the Lead Measure

  3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

  4. Create a Cadence of Accountability

One of my favorite chapters in this book is titled "Embrace Boredom". In a world of constant distraction, Cal encourages us to foster something we've been trained to devalue: doing nothing. My favorite quote from this chapter: "Don’t Take Breaks from Distraction. Instead Take Breaks from Focus."

It's an extremely challenging book, and it's worth the effort. I'll be picking up a physical copy of this book soon. I'll be coming back to it over and over. It's a layer-cake of goodness; not unlike the best tiramisu you've had.


ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This book was an even better read the 2nd time around. It was a great way to take a fresh look at the work you do - be it running a business, managing people at work, or making the most of your workday Here are my biggest take-aways from my 2nd read:

  • Stand for something

  • I need less than I have

  • Confirmation Bias is a dangerous thing. Some things that could help:

    • 1) downsize as much as possible so that the sheer weight of making a decision is lifted, leaving you open to change your mind if needed.

    • 2) remove layers of abstraction

    • 3) Make tiny decision. It's easier to go back.

  • Find your epicenter. Ask yourself, "Which part of the equation can't be removed?" Pare down until you're left with only the most important stuff. Focus on what won't change. Focus all your energy on this part.

  • Momentum is powerful.

    • Quick wins.

    • Short term goals/projects keep the momentum going - 2 week jumps

    • Make decisions. Tiny Decisions. Decisions = progress.

  • Questions to ask yourself to ensure you're doing what matters:

    • Why are you doing this?

    • What problem are you solving?

    • Is this actually useful?

    • Are you adding value?

    • Will this change behavior?

    • Is there an easier way?

    • What could you be doing instead?

    • Is it worth it?

  • "Don't throw good time after bad work."

  • Rules for productive meetings:

    • Set a timer

    • Invite as few people as possible

    • Always have a clear agenda

    • Begin with a specific problem

    • Location of meeting should = site of the problem

    • End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it

  • Environment > Intellect

  • Communication Matters

    • Be you. Be genuine.

    • Share the recipe. Educate everyone. Teach. Don't hoard.

    • Backstage reveals. Give people an inside scoop of your project/company.

    • You cannot be replicated. So, pour more of you into whatever you are doing.

Jason Boddu