A little book

On one day in December 2010, I decided to get myself a book in English for Christmas. I had just turned 15 and it would be the first time I ever read a book written in a foreign language. I ordered Rework. I will never know why exactly I chose that one — I only vaguely knew what Rework is about and I had no idea who 37signals is. I thought the book is something on the intersection of business and programming (no idea where the programming part came from), but I heard it was good and that was enough for me to buy it.

I didn’t expect very much from the book, but I was blown away. Rework was eye-opening for me. As someone with no entrepreneurs in my family, I used to think that business is a dirty word. That the only way to succeed in business is by playing tricks, destroying competition, monopolies and all the crap I wanted nothing to do with. Rework showed me another way — that you can make great products, underdo your competition, work remotely and enjoy all of it.

But it didn’t just change my mind — it changed my life. Immediately after finishing the book, I started following Signal vs. Noise, which became a source of inspiration for me. At one point, Jason Fried linked to an interview with him for Productive Magazine. I enjoyed the interview, so I looked at previous issues of the magazine — and that’s how I found out about Seth Godin and Leo Babauta, whose writing also made a big impact on me.

Second of all, Rework and Signal vs Noise pushed me to take my programming hobby more seriously, ditch my silly PHP projects and start making more interesting things. If not for the inspiration I got from 37signals and people I started reading because of them, I don’t think I would decide to make Tadam — a little Mac app and my first product. And Tadam, even if it seems like a tiny project to you, affected my life a lot. For one thing, once you taste product money, you’ll never be the same. The money itself was quite nice, too. But most importantly, I met some great people.

One of them was Michael Sliwinski. He’s the editor of the Productive Magazine I mentioned earlier, he blogs about productivity and is a Mac user — so I emailed him about Tadam hoping he’d like it and mention the app on his blog. He did and also offered me a job. Long story short, I now get to work on Productive Magazine (the circle of life, huh?) — I made its website as well as its iOS and Android apps (it was released as PDF before) and some more great things are cooking.

… And I don’t feel like it’s the end of the story. The work I’m doing probably doesn’t sound terribly exciting to you — it’s not like building the next big thing at Apple — but for me it’s not about the exact thing I’m making, but rather the learning opportunities I get. At Apple, I would only contribute a small part to the product. Here, I’m the only person working on the project full-time, so I wear many hats and do a lot of different things. I’m learning a ton and I’m sure it will lead to some more great things in the future.

But I digress. I just wanted to take the opportunity after today’s announcement about 37signals changing its name to Basecamp to say “thank you”. I owe a lot to Tadam, Productive Magazine, Seth Godin and others, but looking further back it all started with a little book called Rework. If not for the incredible work 37signals/Basecamp is doing, I probably wouldn’t be here. I would be a programmer, but it would take me a long time to figure out that there’s a whole other world outside of making websites in PHP. I’m glad that Jason and David are big believers in marketing through teaching and that they released Rework. My life wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.

And I guess my story is a yet another reminder that you can only connect the dots looking back. So don’t settle, always keep trying things, learning more and looking for opportunities. Never think you know enough, that you’re good enough. Keep doing better work and look for inspiration — people and their work to learn from. Oh, and when you get to the point when you have something to share, be like 37signals and do that. Teaching people feels so good. It’s incredibly fulfilling and the people you’ll share with will repay you a thousand times.

PS. If you’re looking for inspiration, start here:

Those books will change your life, I promise.

Published February 05, 2014. Last updated October 05, 2015. Send feedback.