Abílio Azevedo.

ReWork

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Abílio Azevedo
Abílio Azevedo

TAKEDOWNS

  • Ignore the real world - Don't use "that would never work in the real world" as an excuse. People often don't really know.
  • Learning from mistakes is overrated - Failure in business has become an expected rite of passage, but it shouldn't be.
  • Planning is guessing - Making detailed long term plans is futile. Focus on what you will do this week instead.
  • Why grow? - Staying small can be an advantage, growing just for the sake of it often backfires.
  • Workaholism - Some people create crises so they can work overtime and feel heroic.
  • Enough with “entrepreneurs” - Replace this fancy term with the more humble "starters".

GO

  • Make a dent in the universe - Do work that makes people's lives better so they notice if you disappear.
  • Scratch your own itch - Make something you yourself want to use.
  • Start making something - What matters is creating, not just having an idea.
  • No time is no excuse - Find the time, don't just complain about being too busy.
  • Draw a line in the sand - Decide what you stand for instead of being generic.
  • Mission statement impossible - Corporate mission statements tend to be generic nonsense.
  • Outside money is Plan Z - Bootstrapping should be the default approach, investors later if needed.
  • You need less than you think - Cut your assumptions on budget, people required etc by half or more.
  • Start a business, not a startup - Focus on sustainability and revenue from the start rather than chasing valuation.
  • Building to flip is building to flop - Making decisions focused on an easy exit often compromises quality.
  • Less mass - Stay as lean and flexible as when you started out.

PROGRESS

  • Embrace constraints - Limitations force you to be creative and eliminate waste.
  • Build half a product, not a half-assed product - Trying to build too many features at once leads to a crappy product. Prioritize ruthlessly.
  • Start at the epicenter - Ignore peripheral stuff early on and focus on the critically important parts first.
  • Ignore the details early on - Defer unimportant decisions as long as possible, especially early on.
  • Making the call is making progress - Committing to a decision and moving forward is better than waiting for the perfect solution.
  • Be a curator - Apply an editing mindset to eliminate the merely good in order to make space for the best ideas.
  • Throw less at the problem - Trying to solve problems by throwing money/people/resources often backfires. Constraints breed creativity.
  • Focus on what won’t change - Latching onto the latest hot trends is risky long-term, build on foundations that won't shift quickly.
  • Tone is in your fingers - Features and technology can be copied, but your unique personality and thinking cannot be.

PRODUCTIVITY

  • Illusions of agreement - Abstract documents often create the illusion of agreement when people interpret them differently.
  • Reasons to quit - Ask tough questions about priorities and goals to ensure you're working on what truly matters.
  • Interruption is the enemy of productivity - Context switching kills productivity, distractions and meetings especially.
  • Meetings are toxic - They waste time, drift off topic easily, need excessive prep, and suck the life out of productivity.
  • Good enough is fine - Seeking complex, perfect solutions to problems can give an intellectual rush while being counterproductive. Apply just enough effort to solve the issue.
  • Quick wins - Momentum and motivation come from moving fast and demonstrating progress.
  • Don't be a hero - Know when to quit if something is dragging on much longer than expected.
  • Go to sleep - Sacrificing sleep destroys creativity and productivity.
  • Your estimates suck - Most estimates are too optimistic. Leave lots of buffer time.
  • Long lists don't get done - Break things down into smaller, actionable next steps.
  • Make tiny decisions - Incremental tiny decisions keep you moving while avoiding big potentially mistaken bets.

COMPETITORS

  • Don’t copy - Imitation can be part of learning, but don't just copy others long-term.
  • Demoditize your product - Make what you offer stand out by baking your unique personality and thinking into it so it can't easily be copied.
  • Pick a fight - Picking a competitor to challenge positions you and gives your supporters something to rally around.
  • Underdo your competition - Trying to match the scale or scope of larger competitors on their own terms rarely succeeds. Do less but do it exceptionally well.
  • Who cares what they’re doing? - Obsessing about competitors breeds unhealthy paranoia and distraction. Stay focused on your own vision.

EVOLUTION

  • Say no by default - Set the default to say no to avoid getting spread too thin and losing sight of what really matters.
  • Let your customers outgrow you - Be willing to part ways with customers who make overly demanding custom requests that don't match your vision.
  • Don't confuse enthusiasm with priority - The excitement rush of a new idea makes it tempting to drop everything else and pursue it, but that excitement quickly fades. Carefully evaluate what's really most important.
  • Be at-home good - Don't just optimize for what seems best in the store. Ensure it still feels like the right choice when actually put to use.
  • Don't write it down - Let your customers be your memory. The requests repeated most often indicate what matters most.

PROMOTION

  • Welcome obscurity - Being unknown allows you to make mistakes privately as you improve.
  • Build an audience - Having fans invested in your work provides a huge advantage over just having customers.
  • Out-teach your competition - Teaching and sharing knowledge in your space allows you to stand out from competitors focused only on sales.
  • Emulate chefs - Chefs like Emeril Lagasse have huge followings because they openly share recipes and techniques instead of guarding secrets.
  • Go behind the scenes - Give customers an inside look at how your business operates instead of hiding the sausage-making.
  • Nobody likes plastic flowers - Have flaws and quirks to come across as genuine instead of hiding behind a slick veneer of perfection.
  • Press releases are spam - Generic press releases sent en masse get ignored just like email spam.
  • Forget the Wall Street Journal - As a small company realistically you won't get coverage in big mainstream publications right away no matter what you try.
  • Drug dealers get it right - Give people a small, free taste upfront knowing the quality will leave them wanting more.
  • Marketing is not a department - Everyone in the company, not just the marketing team, contributes to marketing via their work and interactions every day.
  • Marketing is not a department - The myth is that successes happen overnight. This ignores the groundwork that made it possible. Lay the foundation in obscurity first before going public. Building an audience and fine-tuning your work takes time. Success comes from daily progress.

HIRING

  • Do it yourself first - Trying to do every role yourself first equips you to hire for it better later.
  • Hire when it hurts - Delay hiring as long as possible until the pain of not having enough hands absolutely demands it.
  • Pass on great people - Avoid accumulating people without a clear, immediate purpose even if they seem talented.
  • Strangers at a cocktail party - Resumes tell you nothing about how candidates will actually perform or fit into real workplace scenarios and culture.
  • Resumes are ridiculous - Resumes are almost entirely marketing fluff with little info anyone can actually confirm or trust.
  • Years of irrelevance - Judging candidates simply by years of experience rewards time but not skill or results.
  • Forget formal education - Requirements like degrees filter out unconventional thinkers while certificates show little about practical skills.
  • Everybody works - At small scale everyone needs to actively contribute individual work rather than merely delegate.
  • Hire managers of one - Seek self-motivated people who set their own direction without micromanagement.
  • Hire great writers - Great writing equates to great thinking and conveys skill and credibility regardless of role.
  • The best are everywhere - Thanks to remote work and technology, don't limit yourself to just local talent pools. Hire the best people regardless of geographic distance.
  • Test-drive employees - Evaluate candidates directly based on actual work rather than just resumes and interviews.

DAMAGE CONTROL

  • Own your bad news - Break bad news yourself directly and accurately before rumors or false information spreads.
  • Speed changes everything - Fast and decisive action to address mistakes reassures people rather than compounding damage through slow responses.
  • How to say you’re sorry - Any apology with excuses comes across as insincere. Take full responsibility, state how you are making amends, and explain how you will prevent it in the future.
  • Put everyone on the front lines - Rotate all roles including executives to interface directly with customers so the entire company understands issues firsthand.
  • Take a deep breath - After a major change, wait patiently through initial outraged reactions since they usually subside given time.

CULTURE

  • You don’t create a culture - Strong cultures develop organically over longer periods of time. Attempts to instill culture quickly through top down mandates fail.
  • Decisions are temporary - Most decisions can be revisited and changed later if needed. Avoid overplanning and analysis paralysis.
  • Skip the rock stars - Job ads seeking "ninjas" and "rock stars" signal immature bro culture and environment.
  • They’re not thirteen - Treat employees like responsible adults instead of children by eliminating contemptuous policies that restrict basic freedoms.
  • Send people home at 5 - Requiring long hours and sacrificing personal lives breeds burnout and churn rather than sustainable loyalty and quality work.
  • Don’t scar on the first cut - Don't overreact to first missteps by implementing heavy-handed policies. Give direct feedback first before considering policy changes if poor behavior persists.
  • Sound like you - Don't hide behind formal, impersonal corporate-speak. Communication should match the real personalities of leadership.
  • Four-letter words - Ban potentially divisive, aggressive language like "need" and "can't" that derails productive discussions.
  • ASAP is poison - Implying other priorities are more important by demanding "as soon as possible" devalues people's existing work.

CONCLUSION

  • Inspiration is perishable - Inspiration must be acted on immediately when it strikes. It won't wait for you.
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