My Biggest Takeaway on 37Signals’s New Book on Remote Work (Hint: It’s Not Technology)

REMOTE: The new book from 37signals 2013-11-08 07-41-46I just finished reading Remote: Office Not Required, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, partners at 37Signals.

It’s a great read and here’s the  basic premise:

  • In today’s economy, the quest for talent is so great that organizations can no longer afford to merely look at individuals co-located in their physical presence (their metro area)
  • It is easier than ever to coordinate the work of individuals from around the world with just a good internet connection and a few pieces of web-based software (including 37Signal’s own products)
  • There are many drawbacks to forcing people to work in an office and many perks to allowing them to work (even a few days a week) at home / at a cafe or coworking space that benefit both the remote worker and the organizations that employ them
  • There are simple ways to address many of the concerns people have with remote working (review the work, not time in seat; put relevant information where it can be seen by all, overlap working hours, etc)
  • There is a tipping point coming with remote work. Many organizations large and small, from across many industries, are using remote workers and it’s time you (the reader) became an early adopter.

They actually went out and interviewed a bunch of companies that do remote work as well so REMOTE is not just “the edgy opinions of Fried and DHH”. The book has useful tips for making the case for remote work to your boss (or to your team, if you are the boss). There’s a lot of value in learning how to structure a good remote work environment.

But personally, I got a bigger shift in perspective from something else.

My biggest takeaway from REMOTE:

Continue reading…

This Beautiful Quote Sums Up How Creators Think About Time

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.

Creative People Say No – by Kevin Ashton

unsplash_5244804364ab0_1.JPG (4698×3166) 2013-10-28 10-09-36

(Image via Unsplash & Charlie Foster)

There’s been an explosion of great television in recent years. Breaking Bad. Arrested Development. House of Cards. And yet I can barely keep my butt in a chair for one episode.

It’s not that they don’t grip me. They do. But that’s why I can’t keep watching. Because I know the cost.

Sure, 45 minutes here and there won’t kill me. And sure I spend a lot of time dicking around on the internet. But if I commit to watching a whole season, 12 episodes, that’s 9 hours.

What can I do in 9 hours?

This isn’t to dump on television. This is just a reminder that our time is finite and that as creators (which you are!), we must be mindful of how we spend our time and remember that every moment we waste costs us not just in hours but in creations.

How I Published an Amazon Bestseller By Picking the Right Category

Winning Isn’t Normal has been out for a little over a week. And guess what?

It’s already become an Amazon bestseller.

If you’ve purchased the book, thank you so much for your support. If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? =)

Pics or it didn’t happen right? Here’s the screen shot:

Amazon Gymnastics Bestseller Book View

But here’s the thing. It’s a lot less impressive than it sounds.

When you publish a book via Kindle Direct Publishing (the way I did) you have to pick two categories for your book to fall under. Because my book is about so many things, I had trouble picking which categories.

Because many people consider The Art of Ass-Kicking a “startup blog” and because at least six of my essays in the book are directly about gymnastics or lessons that stem immediately from the sport, I ultimately settled on:

  • Sports and Outdoors -> Individual Sports -> Gymnastics
  • Business & Investing -> Small Business & Entrepreneurship -> Entrepreneurship

One category is obviously more competitive than another. Can you guess which?

A big fish in a small pond

Most of the time, I’d argue it is better to be a small fish in a big pond. Because when you are competing against the best, you learn more, you get tougher and you are forced to keep improving and never rest on your laurels.

But sometimes it is worth pursuing an area that’s more open, with fewer folks clamoring on it, so you can stand out. In this case, having this book reach number one in Gymnastics is worth the trade off of being in a more competitive category. Consider whether there are any activities in life where if you chose a less crowded approach, you could dominate the field. Might be worth trying that out.

Win Awesome Stuff from Me!

If you’ve already bough the book, consider entering my Book Review Giveaway. You could win three amazing books by Seth Godin, the Heath Brothers and Tim Ferriss, beautiful quote typography posters AND a one-on-one Skype session with me. Right now you have a really good shot of winning, so I’d get on it if I were you.

Just write a review for the book on Amazon and forward it + your receipt to winningisntnormal@gmail.com and you’re entered to win. I’m giving away TWO whole sets of prizes so don’t miss out.

The world will try to beat you into mediocrity.

The following is adapted from the Preface for my new book, Winning Isn’t Normal

The world will try to beat you into mediocrity.

We’re pressured into grinding jobs that leave us frustrated and fatigued. Sold into a sedentary lifestyle that turns our bodies into shapeless lumps. Chided into following a pre-determined path of that avoids risk and is devoid of adventure or originality.

The worst part is that the mediocrity often sneaks up on us, dressed as convenience, security, and comfort. So we often don’t even notice it, until it’s too late. Infiltration through obfuscation.

This book is about fighting against mediocrity. And winning.

My eyes were first opened when I read Stephen Covey’s masterpiece, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Pouring through Covey’s lessons – be proactive, private victory before public victory, begin with the end in mind – shaped me as a thirteen year old boy. My perspective and approach to life was changed. profound ways. If this book’s impact is a fraction of a fraction of 7 Habits, I would be overjoyed.

In the following pages, we’ll talk about overcoming our fears, navigating obstacles, pushing through rejection and failure, staying curious, and constantly striving to do things better. We’ll talk about doing things that are difficult and different.

It is with this approach that we do battle with the insidious forces that limit our potential and keep us small.

While I can’t offer you definitive evidence, I want you to know that I do my best to live the values, ideas, and techniques put forth in this book. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I fail to live up to my own exhortations all the time. And yet, I have strong reasons to believe that this stuff really works. Ultimately, that’s for you to decide.

Every book has a beginning. I’d like to thank Ryan Hupfer for convincing me to start my blog, Sebastian Marshall and Derek Flanzraich for our wonderful writing collaborations, Janet Chang for coming at the eleventh hour with thoughtful edits, and Kai Davis for the conversation that lead to this book.

And of course, I’d like to thank my readers for their questions, ideas, suggestions, and stories. If you’d like to reach out to me about anything, I’d love to hear from you at winningisntnormal@gmail.com or on my site, jasonshen.com.

I hope this book makes you think differently. But even more so, I hope this book makes you act differently. Let’s go do some epic sh*t.

My Book, Winning Isn’t Normal, is Now Available on Amazon

3D Cover Winning Isnt NormalIn the past three years, I’ve put countless hours into The Art of Ass-Kicking. It’s been a lot of work, but also tremendously rewarding, both personally and professionally. More than a hobby, this blog has become an integral part of my life. I write to internalize what I’ve learned, and to share with with you, my readers.

In the early spring of 2013, I was thinking about where I could take the blog next, and after a conversation with Kai Davis, decided to publish a book that represented by best ideas, stories and strategies.

Over the course of many months, I put together a book that spans three major themes: focusing our Minds, strengthening our Bodies, and increasing the impact of our Work. I edited and rewrote thirty-one essays (representing over 50k words), designed a cover and three pieces of original quote typography, recruited Sebastian Marshall to write a foreword, and navigated the Amazon Kindle Publishing program.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Winning Isn’t Normal, is now available for download on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.

Note: through October 22nd, there’s also a special giveaway related to the book launch. Scroll down to learn more. Continue reading…