Book: The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier

Review

Without a doubt one of the best books on management. A must-read if you’re in technology, even if you don’t come from a technical background (like I don’t). The tl;dr doesn’t do it justice, it’s a guidebook that should be regularly revisited. Highly recommended.

tl;dr

Have 1-on-1 meetings. Trust your team. Mentor new hires. Create a safe environment for disagreement. Managers need to make your life easier. Don’t compromise on culture fit, especially with managers. Senior leaders are dedicated first and foremost to the business and its success, and secondly to the success of their departments as a whole. Disagreements that happen in the context of the leadership team don’t exist to the wider team.

Continue reading “Book: The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier”

Book: The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

Review

This is a legendary startup book that somehow evaded me for a long time. I was still aware of the general ideas, however, reading it sooner would probably help me avoid a basic mistake we made in one of our latests projects. I love the concept of Validated Learning and are already working on implementing it into our processes.

Highly recommended.

tl;dr

Run experiments to learn if something is working. Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. Build the MVP (either a product or a single feature), Measure the effect on customers, Learn if it’s value-creating or wasteful. Use cohort analysis for measurements. Always work in small batches.

Continue reading “Book: The Lean Startup, Eric Ries”

Book: Work Rules!, Laszlo Bock

Review

A great book on Google’s completely different style of management. Unfortunately, I’ve heard and read enough about Google of late that I know this doesn’t apply anymore. That said, if we take author’s word for it, there was a time where these things were working well and there are lessons we can learn from it.

tl;dr

Take power and authority over employees away from managers. Decisions by peer groups, committees, or teams. Every human being wants to find meaning in his or her work. Transparency is one of the cornerstones of Google’s culture. Restricting information should be a conscious effort, and you’d better have a good reason for doing so.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Work Rules!

Voice means giving employees a real say in how the company is run. Two things that should be completely separate: performance evaluation and people development.

Continue reading “Book: Work Rules!, Laszlo Bock”

Book: The Permanent Portfolio, Craig Rowland

Review

This is a modern interpretation of the book Fail-Safe Investing by Harry Browne. It’s the same concept but with modern examples. This is a fantastic book and an investment strategy I use myself. Highly recommended.

tl;dr

25 percent each: stocks, bonds, gold, cash (short-term bonds)

The Permanent Portfolio

The Permanent Portfolio is a strategy to embrace uncertainty in the markets. The main goal is to prevent major losses. Surprisingly, backtests also show that over the long-term PP also beats highly volatile stock-only portfolios. Rebalance once a year or when an asset reaches 15% or 35%. Keep some assets outside the country in which you live.

Continue reading “Book: The Permanent Portfolio, Craig Rowland”

Book: The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande

Review

Checklists are great. We use them in all parts of the company process and a lot of documentation is made obsolete just by changing it to a checklist that anyone can follow. This is a great read.

tl;dr

Jobs are becoming too complex to be done from memory alone. Checklists remind us of the minimum necessary steps. Reminders of most critical and important steps. Practical. Between five and nine items. Let it evolve.

Continue reading “Book: The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande”

Book: Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy

Review

A classic from 1963 and still very relevant, even when writing for the web.

tl;dr

Do the market research. Make the product the hero. The headline should sell the product and promise a benefit. Put identifying words in the headline when selling to a small group. Pretend you are writing a letter. “The more facts you tell, the more you sell”. Long copy better than short. Write copy in the form of a story. Pretend to be a magazine editor and you will get better results.

Continue reading “Book: Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy”

Book: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Review

A quick read, about 2 hours, with a lot of great non-conventional advice like in Maverick. We already follow a lot of the things mentioned but there are quite a few new good ideas.

tl;dr

Chaos should not be the natural state at work. Things can wait. Ideas should be written, shown, left for a while, and only then discussed. There is no “low hanging fruit”. Cut down on interruptions. Most people should miss on most things most of the time. Equal work, equal pay with yearly market rate review. Doing “nothing” should always be on the table. The cost of consensus is simply too much to pay over and over again. Disagree and commit.

Continue reading “Book: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried”

Book: Slicing Pie, Mike Moyer

Review

A good model on how to allocate equity in bootstrapped startups. The author also offers a software that simplifies the process.

tl;dr

It’s not about the money, people want to know that their contribution is valued. A “Pie” is a promise to allocate equity when the time comes. Calculate the relative value that each person brings. The percentage of pie for each person remains fluid and changes from day to day. 

The main value ingredients:

  • Time. Calculate your market hourly rate and multiply by two. If receiving a salary, then the calculation is based on whatever compensation is put at risk.
  • Cash and business-enabling equipment is the actual value times four.

Allocate equity at the point of diminishing returns or when the idea becomes a business that has a predictable revenue stream and cost structure.

Continue reading “Book: Slicing Pie, Mike Moyer”

Book: The Mom Test, Rob Fitzpatrick

Review

Talking to potential customers about your idea is not enough. You need to ask the right questions, the right way to get relevant answers. Great book.

tl;dr

Ask about the customer’s life (problems, cares, constraints, goals), not about the idea. With requests, you need to find the root cause. Get commitments to the next step. Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff. If you aren’t finding consistent problems, you don’t have a specific enough segment. Avoid receiving compliments. Talk less.

Continue reading “Book: The Mom Test, Rob Fitzpatrick”

Book: Small Giants, Bo Burlingham

Review

Company culture, an elusive ideal. Can you keep it once you start growing, and how? Lessons from a few companies, analyzed by the author.

tl;dr

A Small Giant has “mojo”, a buzz about it and everyone wants to be a part of it. To build a small giant, you need to stay private and without outside shareholders. Stagnation is a threat to culture.

Small giants excel in customer service. But customers come second – people/employees come first.

Create opportunities for great people to grow and take on new challenges. Create an atmosphere in which people feel valued and respected but also make it possible for them to have fun at work.

You can only excel only at one value type: the best price, the best product, or the best overall solution. Each comes with its own kind of organization, culture and mindset.

In the end, to be successful, you also need: healthy margins, healthy balance sheet and a sound business model.

Continue reading “Book: Small Giants, Bo Burlingham”