The E-Myth Revisited Quick Review

A few days ago I finished The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. Here’s a quick review:

If you’ve ever wondered why your boss is the way they are, or why you feel like your job is confusing, or that you’re being pulled in all sorts of directions at work you should read this. Even if you have no desire to start a business it’d be worth reading to understand how a successful small business could be setup and run.

Heck, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t read business books (hi, this was me until recently) I’d still recommend it. If you read it and still don’t want to run a business it will help you understand why someone might want to start, run, and sell their business. Plus, chances are there’s advice in here that if you implement would bring clarity and purpose to your current role even if you’re at the bottom of the org chart.

The book does present a platonic ideal of a business that will rarely match reality; however, in reading it you’ll wonder why more businesses don’t at least try. The core idea is that every business, no matter the size, should be organizing itself to work as a franchise. Or, to put it another way, if you’re the boss, you should organize your business so that it can work without you there. Same for every position in the company. Systematize everything and continually test those systems to maximize their effectiveness. Write down actual scripts and standard operating procedures for how to handle everything and train people on how to stick to them so they can be successful.

This approach requires making a billion decisions and writing them down rather than relying on information that can so often be trapped inside of people’s heads. In the rosy view of the book what you’re left with is a company where everyone understands what they’re doing and why and has all the tools available to them to do it well and efficiently.

It’s an intoxicating thought: imagine if you had perfect clarity of purpose–and the support to execute on that purpose–for your daily tasks? What if everyone in your company had that too?

English majors be warned

This is edited to be appeal broadly to business-y business people. It repeats itself often and is full of anecdotes. The executive summary of it could fit in 10 pages. I think you’d miss some of the impact of it if you did that version, but do know that if you’re a reader of literature you will likely start rewriting sentences in your head on the fly.

The Peripheral

I was talking to a friend a month or so ago about when and why we put books down. Sometimes it’s not grabbing you, or the author seems to be wasting your time, or any number of other reasons, but it happens. I’m a completionist at heart, but steadily learning to stop feeling guilty about not letting an author waste my time.

I didn’t finish The Peripheral the first time I picked it up. I almost didn’t the second time either, but I pushed on because, frankly, Gibson had earned my trust through his other work, his interviews, and–a new one for me–his endlessly fascinating twitter presence. How Gibsonian of him. I’m so glad I did, because this is a new favorite novel for me.

The Peripheral takes about 100 pages to make any amount of sense. It’s an incredibly engaging 100 pages despite this seemingly major deficiency in a novel. You struggle against the frenetic pace, the vocabulary, the mystery until parts and pieces start to coalesce into something you can hold onto. This, in turn, makes you appreciate how the main characters are also muddling their way through. You rarely feel like you have more information than them, which is a very neat trick.

I think you should read this book, and give it at least 100 pages, but go into it as cold as you can and relinquish the need to know what in the world is going on.

This review is cross-posted on GoodReads.

Deep Work

A few days ago I went on a self-imposed twitter break. This book showed up the next day and I proceeded to read it in a handful of days because apparently I do have free time, it was just being eaten up in tiny increments of distraction. To say I was primed for Deep Work is an understatement.

The thesis is pretty simple: you need to train yourself to do solid stretches of focused work on important career-advancing problems. Both for your personal fulfillment as well as to be rewarded in our changing economy. If you don’t agree with that premise you’ll hate the book since it’s stating that over and over, giving examples of why this is important, and then details on how to actually do that. The first half is the defense of the premise, the second half is how to do so. If you’re really strapped for time you could skip the first half, but it’s well-written and enjoyably written.

If, like me, you’ve been feeling like your work life is mostly batting emails back and forth I’d highly suggest reading it. I have a big list of things I’m going to attempt from it and immediately after finishing reading this morning I mapped out the rest of my day.

This review is cross-posted on GoodReads.