Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Books from Red Gate and CD Baby

In less than an hour this afternoon I was able to blaze through two short books I received at the Business of Software Conference, Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) and The Book of Red Gate from Red Gate Software.

A cynic would label these two books "vanity pieces" by successful businesses. Someone more gullible would say the authors just want to share some of the secrets of their success. Because I lean toward gullibility, let's throw them a bone and try to benefit from their sharing.

Because of the books' brevity, there's not much left to do but summarize.

Anything You Want

Sivers' book distills the secrets for his success.
  1. Business is not about money. It's about making dreams come true for others and for yourself. (This in spite of selling his company for $22 million. Repeat after me: a business exists to make a profit.)
  2. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself. (A little too Kumbaya, too lofty for me.)
  3. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It's where you design your perfect world. (This topic is covered in depth by Red Gate.)
  4. Never do anything just for the money.
  5. Don't pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.
  6. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what's not working. (This seems obvious.)
  7. Your business plan is moot. You don't know what people really want until you start doing it. (The corollary to this is that people don't know what they want until they see what you implement.)
  8. Starting with no money is an advantage. You don't need money to start helping people. (Having no money also means you won't be wasting any.)
  9. You can't please everyone, so proudly exclude people. (True, true, true.)
  10. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business. (Was I ever necessary?)
  11. The real point of doing anything it to be happy, so do only what makes you happy. (Easier said than done.)
The Book of Red Gate
Red Gate's book is a manifesto for their company's culture.
  1. You will be reasonable with us. We will be reasonable with you. (The way we say this is you act like a professional, we'll treat you like a professional.)
  2. Attempt to do the best work of your life.
  3. Motivation isn't about carrots and sticks. (Carrots don't work anyway.)
  4. Our best work is done in teams.
  5. Don't be an asshole. (Now they tell me.)
  6. Get the right stuff done. (Easier said than done.)
  7. Visible misteaks are a sign that we are a healthy organization.
  8. No politics.
  9. Do the right things for our customers.
  10. Profits are only a way of keeping score, not the game itself. (I'm glad they acknowledge that profit exists.)
  11. We will succeed if we build wonderful, useful products. (Notice that wonderful comes first. I like that.)
  12. We base our decisions on the available evidence. (And often the available evidence is slim to nonexistent.)
  13. We count contribution, not hours.

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