These guys seem to have their act together. They run this Chicago company called 37 Signals which is headquartered in my neighborhood. I use a few of their products, albeit sparingly, and they are truly excellent. In fact, after reading this book, I’m going to dig a little deeper into Basecamp and Highrise because maybe I should throw them in the mix with my other productivity tools.

They grabbed me early on with this simple truth that actually drives a chunk of my consulting business:

Technology that cost thousands is now just a few bucks or even free. One person can do the job of two or three or, in some cases, an entire department. Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is simple today.

This is both exciting and frightening for me. There are some awesome tools out there to do financial analysis and because I’m slightly ahead of the curve I’ve been able to capitalize on their value. However, if this simplification continues, I’m going to have to continue to innovate or be oversimplified!

But enough about me. Let’s talk about this book. It’s a massive stack of quick hits (3-5 page chapters) on how to thrive in today’s competitive environment. What makes these dudes an authority on the subject? Well, they are thriving in today’s competitive environment and this gives an indication of the value system that has allowed them to do so.

I’m interested in what they say also because I agree with just about everything they say. Like this:

Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination in itself.

How appropriate. I’m trying to get smaller as we speak. I’m stripping things down to the core.

Sure, they take a lot of heat for this. They got harangued by many in the media when they took Mint to task for selling out to Intuit. But I love it because they practice what they preach. They seem to live in a nice little zone of anti-hypocrisy.

Here is their take on the concept of less.

Ever seen the weapons prisoners make out of soap or a spoon? They make due with what they’ve got. …


… And we always keep features to a minimum. Boxing ourselves in this way prevents us from creating bloated products.

and finally:

… Be a curator. Stick to what’s truly essential. Pare things down until you’re left with only the most important stuff. Then do it again. You can always add stuff back later if you need to.

Lotta stuff. Lotta stuff that I can live by. Lotta stuff on the alone zone and no meetings and visual prioritization and teaching and wabi-sabi and spending other peoples money. And it all has examples, either from their own company or other professions and firms.

The only question is how do I keep reminding myself of this stuff. I read it on the Kindle so I have the Kindle App on all of my devices; should I just read through the bookmarks I added for this book occasionally? Should I create a calendar item to repeat this every other month or something? How about posting quotes on my bathroom wall?

I’ll think of something.