I usually don’t read pop management books, but I heard about Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson and thought it sounded refreshing and took a look. It’s super easy to read, I’m guessing by design; these guys are pros at such design. They started out doing web stuff. They have a nice blog and make some kind of productivity software.

The authors are smart, write well, and have produced a slick book, but they may not be geniuses. (They might be.) The book appears to be so brilliant because the simple common sense that they present is so utterly alien to Silicon Valley.

They talk a lot about general small business common sense ( don’t grow for growth’s sake, turn a profit, etc.) But I found their thoughts on staffing extremely refreshing and similar to my own. Here are some opinions (disguised as advice) I was delighted to see were not just mine. (Bold text are page titles from the book.)

  • Sound like you | Nobody likes plastic flowers

Don’t be fake. Also don’t be secretive. They believe your secrets are less valuable than you think. Emulate chefs who publish their recipes in cookbooks. Go behind the scenes and "Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business really works." One example I thought of is magic. When I see a normal magician I think, there’s probably a cheap gimmick behind the tricks; when I see a great magician (e.g. Penn & Teller), they reveal how everything is done so that I can understand that it is wildly more brilliant than I could have ever imagined. Keeping trade secrets is for lazy incompetent cowards.

  • Forget about formal education

Formal education is cool, but it can be turned into a cargo cult. Having worked in a post graduate degree factory for a long time, I know first hand that there is a surprisingly high standard deviation in the quality of PhDs. The authors point out…

Too much time in academia can actually do you harm.

I personally am in complete agreement with Mark Twain, whom they quote: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

  • Years of irrelevance

There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years. The real difference comes from the individual’s dedication, personality, and intelligence.

This is of course complicated, but essentially correct. Even if my extensive years of experience with a particular thing is relevant, it is nullified as a meaningful hiring consideration by imposters faking it in conjunction with the impossibility of properly measuring what "years of experience" even means.

  • The best are everywhere

I suffer severe cognitive dissonance when I think of companies who make tools that enable remote collaboration and yet forbid their employees to take advantage of their own products for that obvious purpose. Thankfully these guys (who do make remote collaboration software) aren’t so obtuse.

It’s crazy not to hire the best people just because they live far away. Especially now that there’s so much technology out there making it easier to bring everyone together online. … Geography doesn’t matter anymore. Hire the best talent, regardless of where it is.

  • They’re not thirteen

When you treat people like children, you get children’s work.

  • Hire great writers

Besides just hiring professional writers who are good the book makes a case that people who are good writers may possess many valuable qualities.

If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. … Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. … Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

At the very least, they can email you a great excuse!