TO DO GREAT work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference. That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe. That you’re part of something important. (Location 239)

Tags: purpose

Scratch your own itch The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use. (Location 252)

Tags: idea generation

What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan. (Location 283)

Tags: pres, execution

Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The original pitch idea is such a small part of a business that it’s almost negligible. The real question is how well you execute. (Location 289)

Tags: pitch, execution

Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world. (Location 306)

Tags: purpose

Start a business, not a startup (Location 394)

Tags: startups, favorite

The problem with this magical place is it’s a fairy tale. The truth is every business, new or old, is governed by the same set of market forces and economic rules. Revenue in, expenses out. Turn a profit or wind up gone. (Location 399)

Tags: business mechanics

You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship. If your whole strategy is based on leaving, chances are you won’t get far in the first place. (Location 414)

Tags: vision, commitments

And the more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction. It’s as true in the business world as it is in the physical world. (Location 429)

Tags: large companies

Embrace constraints “I DON’T HAVE enough time/money/people/experience.” Stop whining. Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative. (Location 454)

Tags: creativity, challenges

Note: Limited resources force you to make do with what you have a reduce waste

Build half a product, not a half-assed product You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once. You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well. You have limited time, resources, ability, and focus. It’s hard enough to do one thing right. Trying to do ten things well at the same time? Forget about it. (Location 474)

Tags: focus, product development

When you start anything new, there are forces pulling you in a variety of directions. There’s the stuff you could do, the stuff you want to do, and the stuff you have to do. The stuff you have to do is where you should begin. Start at the epicenter. (Location 485)

Tags: product development, priotitise

Walt Stanchfield, famed drawing instructor for Walt Disney Studios, used to encourage animators to “forget the detail” at first. The reason: Detail just doesn’t buy you anything in the early stages.1 Besides, you often can’t recognize the details that matter most until after you start building. That’s when you see what needs more attention. You feel what’s missing. And that’s when you need to pay attention, not sooner. (Location 505)

Tags: product development

Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it.” Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward. (Location 513)

Tags: execution, decisiveness, choices

Note: Decide and move forward

You want to get into the rhythm of making choices. When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale. Decisions are progress. (Location 514)

Tags: decisiveness, choices

The problem comes when you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later. It won’t. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow. (Location 517)

Tags: decisiveness

Long projects zap morale. The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. Make the call, make progress, and get something out now—while you’ve got the motivation and momentum to do so. (Location 525)

Tags: decisiveness, product development

It’s the stuff you leave out that matters. So constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline. (Location 532)

Tags: priotitise, simplification

People use equipment as a crutch. They don’t want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop. They’re looking for a shortcut. But you just don’t need the best gear in the world to be good. And you definitely don’t need it to get started. (Location 578)

Tags: excuses

Think about it this way: If you had to launch your business in two weeks, what would you cut out? (Location 611)

Tags: priotitise, product development

If you need to explain something, try getting real with it. Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it. Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it. Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction. (Location 641)

Tags: stories, visualisation

It’s easy to put your head down and just work on what you think needs to be done. It’s a lot harder to pull your head up and ask why. (Location 657)

Here are some important questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re doing work that matters: Why are you doing this? Ever find yourself working on something without knowing exactly why? Someone just told you to do it. It’s pretty common, actually. That’s why it’s important to ask why you’re working on____. What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand the work itself. What problem are you solving? What’s the problem? Are customers confused? Are you confused? Is something not clear enough? Was something not possible before that should be possible now? Sometimes when you ask these questions, you’ll find you’re solving an imaginary problem. That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what the hell you’re doing. Is this actually useful? Are you making something useful or just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something cool. But eventually you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if it’s useful, too. Cool wears off. Useful never does. Are you adding value? Adding something is easy; adding value is hard. Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers? Can they get more out of it than they did before? Sometimes things you think are adding value actually subtract from it. Too much ketchup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance. Will this change behavior? Is what you’re working on really going to change anything? Don’t add something unless it has a real impact on how people use your product. Is there an easier way? Whenever you’re working on something, ask, “Is there an easier way?” You’ll often find this easy way is more than good enough for now. Problems are usually pretty simple. We just imagine that they require hard solutions. What could you be doing instead? What can’t you do because you’re doing this? This is especially important for small teams with constrained resources. That’s when prioritization is even more important. If you work on A, can you still do B and C before April? If not, would you rather have B and C instead of A? If you’re stuck on something for a long period of time, that means there are other things you’re not getting done. Is it really worth it? Is what you’re doing really worth it? Is this meeting worth pulling six people off their work for an hour? Is it worth pulling an all-nighter tonight, or could you just finish it up tomorrow? Is it worth getting all stressed out over a press release from a competitor? Is it worth spending your money on advertising? Determine the real value of what you’re about to do before taking the plunge. (Location 658)

Tags: product development, questions to ask

Interruption is the enemy of productivity (Location 689)

Tags: productivity

productivity. Interruption is not collaboration, it’s just interruption. And when you’re interrupted, you’re not getting work done. (Location 694)

Tags: productivity

Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. (Location 695)

Tags: productivity

Also, when you do collaborate, try to use passive communication tools, like e-mail, that don’t require an instant reply, instead of interruptive ones, like phone calls and face-to-face meetings. (Location 709)

Tags: teamwork, communication

Meetings are toxic (Location 713)

Tags: meetings

They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute. (Location 715)

Tags: meetings

They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for. (Location 716)

Tags: meetings

They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense. (Location 717)

Tags: meetings

Let’s say you’re going to schedule a meeting that lasts one hour, and you invite ten people to attend. That’s actually a ten-hour meeting, not a one-hour meeting. You’re trading ten hours of productivity for one hour of meeting time. (Location 723)

Tags: meetings

Set a timer. When it rings, meeting’s over. Period. Invite as few people as possible. Always have a clear agenda. Begin with a specific problem. Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room. Point to real things and suggest real changes. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing (Location 730)

Tags: meetings

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. Whenever you face an obstacle, look for a way to judo it. (Location 736)

Tags: favorite, efficiency

When good enough gets the job done, go for it. It’s way better than wasting resources or, even worse, doing nothing because you can’t afford the complex solution. And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later. (Location 746)

Tags: product development, decisiveness, execution

Quick wins (Location 749)

The way you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving on to the next thing. (Location 751)

Tags: product development, decisiveness

To keep your momentum and motivation up, get in the habit of accomplishing small victories along the way. (Location 753)

Tags: execution, compound

Go to sleep Forgoing sleep is a bad idea. Sure, you get those extra hours right now, but you pay in spades later: You destroy your creativity, morale, and attitude. (Location 778)

Tags: sleep

Lack of creativity: Creativity is one of the first things to go when you lose sleep. What distinguishes people who are ten times more effective than the norm is not that they work ten times as hard; it’s that they use their creativity to come up with solutions that require one-tenth of the effort. Without sleep, you stop coming up with those one-tenth solutions. (Location 784)

Tags: sleep, creativity

Your estimates suck We’re all terrible estimators. We think we can guess how long something will take, when we really have no idea. (Location 796)

Tags: product development, planning

The solution: Break the big thing into smaller things. The smaller it is, the easier it is to estimate. (Location 809)

Tags: planning, simplification

That’s a formula for failure, though. The problem with this sort of copying is it skips understanding—and understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is the way it is. When you just copy and paste, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath. (Location 857)

Tags: copycats, failure

Plus, if you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in a passive position. You never lead; you always follow. You give birth to something that’s already behind the times—just a knockoff, an inferior version of the original. That’s no way to live. (Location 863)

Tags: copycats

At Zappos, customer-service employees don’t use scripts and are allowed to talk at length with customers. The call center and the company’s headquarters are in the same place, not oceans apart. And all Zappos employees—even those who don’t work in customer service or fulfillment—start out by spending four weeks answering phones and working in the warehouse. It’s this devotion to customer service that makes Zappos unique among shoe sellers. (Location 873)

Tags: customer focused

Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product. (Location 882)

Tags: copycats, product development

Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers, too. Taking a stand always stands out. People get stoked by conflict. They take sides. Passions are ignited. And that’s a good way to get people to take notice. (Location 900)

Tags: stories, competition

So what do you do instead? Do less than your competitors to beat them. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing. (Location 908)

Tags: competition

In the end, it’s not worth paying much attention to the competition anyway. Why not? Because worrying about the competition quickly turns into an obsession. What are they doing right now? Where are they going next? How should we react? (Location 924)

Tags: competition

Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary. You wind up offering your competitor’s products with a different coat of paint. (Location 932)

Tags: competition

Start getting into the habit of saying no—even to many of your best ideas. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no. But you often wind up regretting saying yes. (Location 954)

Tags: priotitise, say no

board. That’s where your continued growth potential lies. People and situations change. You can’t be everything to everyone. Companies need to be true to a type of customer more than a specific individual customer with changing needs. Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority Coming up with a great idea gives you a rush. You start imagining the possibilities and the benefits. And of course, you want all that right away. So you drop everything else you’re working on and begin pursuing your latest, greatest idea. Bad move. The enthusiasm you have for a new idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth. What seems like a sure-fire hit right now often gets downgraded to just a “nice to have” by morning. And “nice to have” isn’t worth putting everything else on hold. (Location 986)

Tags: idea generation, focus

So let your latest grand ideas cool off for a while first. By all means, have as many great ideas as you can. Get excited about them. Just don’t act in the heat of the moment. Write them down and park them for a few days. Then, evaluate their actual priority with a calm mind. (Location 996)

Tags: priotitise, idea generation

Note: Dont act on ideas in the heat of the moment, pause and evaluate them

And keep in mind that once you do get bigger and more popular, you’re inevitably going to take fewer risks. When you’re a success, the pressure to maintain predictability and consistency builds. You get more conservative. It’s harder to take risks. That’s when things start to fossilize and change becomes difficult. (Location 1033)

Tags: risk, large companies

Note: The larger you get the more conservative you get

So build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos—whatever. Share information that’s valuable and 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. (Location 1053)

Tags: build an audience

Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics. Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection. They’ll trust you more. They’ll respect you more. Even if they don’t use your product, they can still be your fans. (Location 1063)

Tags: sharing, build an audience

As a business owner, you should share everything you know too. This is anathema to most in the business world. Businesses are usually paranoid and secretive. They think they have proprietary this and competitive advantage that. (Location 1074)

Tags: sharing

Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them. They’ll feel a bond with you and see you as human beings instead of a faceless company. They’ll see the sweat and effort that goes into what you sell. They’ll develop a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for what you do. (Location 1094)

Tags: community, build an audience, sharing

Wabi-sabi values character and uniqueness over a shiny facade. It teaches that cracks and scratches in things should be embraced. It’s also about simplicity. You strip things down and then use what you have. Leonard Koren, author of a book on wabi-sabi, gives this advice: Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered but don’t sterilize. (Location 1103)

Tags: simplification

Drug dealers get it right Drug dealers are astute businesspeople. They know their product is so good they’re willing to give a little away for free upfront. They know you’ll be back for more—with money. (Location 1139)

Tags: selling

Every time you answer the phone, it’s marketing. Every time you send an e-mail, it’s marketing. Every time someone uses your product, it’s marketing. Every word you write on your Web site is marketing. If you build software, every error message is marketing. If you’re in the restaurant business, the after-dinner mint is marketing. If you’re in the retail business, the checkout counter is marketing. If you’re in a service business, your invoice is marketing. (Location 1153)

Tags: customer focused, marketing

Note: Every interaction with the customer is marketing

NEVER HIRE ANYONE to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first. That way, you’ll understand the nature of the work. You’ll know what a job well done looks like. You’ll know how to write a realistic job description and which questions to ask in an interview. (Location 1180)

Tags: management, hiring

Hire a ton of people rapidly and a “strangers at a cocktail party” problem is exactly what you end up with. There are always new faces around, so everyone is unfailingly polite. Everyone tries to avoid any conflict or drama. No one says, “This idea sucks.” People appease instead of challenge. (Location 1214)

Tags: hiring

How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it. (Location 1246)

Tags: favorite, experience

Forget about formal education I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. —MARK TWAIN (Location 1248)

Tags: college

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. (Location 1285)

Tags: writing

The best way to do that is to actually see them work. Hire them for a miniproject, even if it’s for just twenty or forty hours. You’ll see how they make decisions. You’ll see if you get along. You’ll see what kind of questions they ask. You’ll get to judge them by their actions instead of just their words. (Location 1305)

Tags: hiring

WHEN SOMETHING GOES wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You’ll be better off if it’s you. Otherwise, you create an opportunity for rumors, hearsay, and false information to spread. (Location 1323)

Tags: apologise, stories

People will respect you more if you are open, honest, public, and responsive during a crisis. Don’t hide behind spin or try to keep your bad news on the down low. You want your customers to be as informed as possible. (Location 1327)

Tags: challenges, apologise

Here are some tips on how you can own the story: The message should come from the top. The highest-ranking person available should take control in a forceful way. Spread the message far and wide. Use whatever megaphone you have. Don’t try to sweep it under the rug. “No comment” is not an option. Apologize the way a real person would and explain what happened in detail. Honestly be concerned about the fate of your customers—then prove (Location 1338)

Tags: apologise

Getting back to people quickly is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to customer service. It’s amazing how much that can defuse a bad situation and turn it into a good one. (Location 1345)

Tags: customer focused, apologise

How to say you’re sorry There’s never really a great way to say you’re sorry, but there are plenty of terrible ways. One of the worst ways is the non-apology apology, which sounds like an apology but doesn’t really accept any blame. For example, “We’re sorry if this upset you.” Or “I’m sorry that you don’t feel we lived up to your expectations.” Whatever. (Location 1356)

Tags: apologise

A good apology accepts responsibility. It has no conditional if phrase attached. It shows people that the buck stops with you. And then it provides real details about what happened and what you’re doing to prevent it from happening again. And it seeks a way to make things right. (Location 1360)

Tags: responsibility, apologise

bad. Listening to customers is the best way to get in tune with a product’s strengths and weaknesses. (Location 1386)

Tags: listen

Also, remember that negative reactions are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones. In fact, you may hear only negative voices even when the majority of your customers are happy about a change. Make sure you don’t foolishly backpedal on a necessary but controversial decision. (Location 1410)

Tags: negativity

Note: Negative reactions are always far louder than positive ones

You don’t create a culture. It happens. This is why new companies don’t have a culture. Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture. (Location 1427)

Tags: culture

Decisions are temporary “But what if . . . ?” “What happens when . . . ?” “Don’t we need to plan for . . . ?” Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet. It’s not a problem until it’s a real problem. Most of the things you worry about never happen anyway. (Location 1434)

Tags: worrying, decisiveness

Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. They’re a 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 (Location 1454)

Tags: teamwork, culture

That applies to the language you use everywhere—in e-mail, packaging, interviews, blog posts, presentations, etc. Talk to customers the way you would to friends. Explain things as if you were sitting next to them. Avoid jargon or any sort of corporate-speak. (Location 1496)

Tags: customer focused, language

Note: Talk to customers like you would to friends

Four-letter words There are four-letter words you should never use in business. They’re not fuck or shit. They’re need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast. These words get in the way of healthy communication. They are red flags that introduce animosity, torpedo good discussions, and cause projects to be late. (Location 1509)

Tags: language

Easy. Easy is a word that’s used to describe other people’s jobs. “That should be easy for you to do, right?” But notice how rarely people describe their own tasks as easy. For you, it’s “Let me look into it”—but for others, it’s “Get it done.” (Location 1521)

Tags: language, teamwork, work, favorite