It doesn’t have to be crazy at work!

Just finished an interesting book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Actually two. One is the title of this blog. The other is called Rework.

I loved the fact that a lot of what they think about and suggest – is what we have already implemented at my consulting firm. It’s refreshing to hear someone thinking beyond fictional numbers and alpha-personalities.

So much is made about long-term planning and budgeting for years and years – but then the pandemic comes along and estimates go haywire as business scramble to change course. Yes, bigger organizations do need them, but over-reliance on what is essentially an educated guess, can be avoided.

The authors also speak about ‘entrepreneurship’. Besides being a really tough work to pronounce, a lot is made of this so-called magical tribe that somehow weaves valuation money out of thin air. The fact is that running a business is a lot of sweat and grime, and not as glamorous as burning other people’s money.

‘Starters’ is their choice of word for people who start businesses, I would call them ‘self-starters’ instead. Easier to pronounce, easier to understand, and takes a lot of performance pressure out of the equation.

Mission statements and visions are other archaic concepts in most companies. While it is good to know where you are going, most mission statements are verbose and do little for anyone, except get framed behind the reception. Rather, focus on action and walking-the-talk.

Startup pitches have a part that speaks about ‘exit strategies’. It’s like meeting a divorce lawyer on the first day of the wedding, says Jason. How can one build something meaningful, with one foot out of the door?

The long and short of it is – a lot of the pressure and stress at the workplace is a result of poor planning and unreasonable expectations from one’s own self. If you start a business, you are labelled an entrepreneur and now you have to perform, show valuations, raise money, fly to the moon, and so on. This results in a complete mismatch – you started with excitement at building something, and now it turns into a machine that has to churn out results to satisfy others and reach unreasonable targets.

All this shows up in your daily work schedule. You are on emails and calls from morning till night, chasing unrealistic deadlines, missing sleep, being too busy to think normally, working 80 hour weeks, and making your team do the same, until one fine day you can’t help but collapse.

Is this how you wished to change the world?

Being your own boss is as difficult as it is exciting. It is challenging as it is intoxicating. But most of all, it is interesting. It is discovering. It is knowing.

Don’t kill it just to become a unicorn. I don’t think Byju started off by thinking that five years down the line, his salespeople would be hounding harassed parents to sign up on an app that does not teach or educate, but gives shortcuts. I think he had good intentions, being an educator, but the money got in the way.

Take some time off to think about it. And then, approach your business with a renewed outlook. One that complements, not competes. One that makes the world a better place for yourself and your employees and your clients. That is true success. A unicorn, on the other hand, is a one-horned deer that doesn’t exist except in your head.

See you tomorrow!