by Steve Roh
This article is part of a series that is intended to serve as a sort of "executive book summary" for people in the hypnosis field.
In this issue, we summarize "Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Fried and Hansson run 37signals, a company that is well-known in the technology field because of their lean and agile approach to product development.
Their products (including "Basecamp" and "Campfire") are very popular, largely because they are intentionally designed to be as simple as possible, with only the essential feature set. Hypnotists who are operating on a budget would be well-advised to check out their web-based software, because their "basic" versions are generally free.
Brief personal background: before doing hypnosis I was involved in the software/database field in roles as a programmer/architect, and also as a manager of application developers.
The main thing in designing and developing systems, is the art of not painting yourself into a corner. It is critical to manage complexity by keeping things as simple as possible, while still designing with enough flexibility to take into account changing requirements and the evolution of functionality.
When it comes to managing people within a project, a fundamental principle is to avoid adding more people to the project than is absolutely necessary. This is because adding people ("throwing bodies at the problem") causes geometric increases in the amount of potential friction within the project, as well as necessitating more and more communication (aka. more emails, more status reports, and more meetings, hooray!), thus leading to greater opportunities for mis-communication.
"Rework" is a sort of manifesto for people who want to develop something, with minimal bloat and maximum value delivered. I think we can find some interesting parallels that may be of use to anyone who is considering getting started in the hypnosis field.
Of course, there is a very significant distinction to be made between the scalability of a hypnosis practice, compared to something like web-based software. But the concepts in "Rework" are still valuable because they can help a practitioner focus on essential basics, instead of getting distracted by features and needless complexity.
So, here are interpretations of selected key themes that are found in "Rework".
Enough with "Entrepreneurs"
It seems that many hypnotists go through training, but experience a great deal of hesitation about getting started actually working with people in their local market. They are filled with doubt about whether or not they are cut out to be "entrepreneurs", so maybe they read books about "how to be an entrepreneur", hoping they acquire that mindset.
But why bother? People who are "entrepreneurs" are not sitting on the fence for years telling themselves "someday I will get started". It doesn’t matter. Just start a business that makes money, and forget the whole egotistical desire to tell yourself and the world "I’m an entrepreneur".
Start a Business, Not a Startup
Similarly, people often have some emotional connection with the idea of being the founder of a "startup"… but "Rework" urges us to start a business, not a startup.
In the hypnosis field, you will often hear advice such as "treat it like a business". That’s OK advice I suppose.
But the problem is, most people who are interested in this field are nowhere near adopting the mindset of a business owner. So, here is some contrarian advice:
Treat yourself as an employee of your hypnosis practice. Trick yourself into treating it like a J-O-B!
Here’s an exercise: create an organization chart for your practice, just like you’d see in a "normal" business (or one of those FBI charts that show the organization of a Mafia family).
Outsource accounting and legal functions in the chart, unless you are insane or a masochist. But, in every other position (marketing, business development, manager, president, etc.), place your name.
Then, show up to work and do your job(s).
The interesting thing is if you do this exercise, you will see that the "hypnotist" job function is important, but it’s just one part of the whole thing. This will give you a different perspective towards your practice.
Learning from Mistakes is Overrated
There are enough mistakes being made all around you, more than enough to learn from.
I am sure you’ve heard the scary statistics about how often businesses fail? You know, "90% of businesses fail in the first 5 years". Boo!
When I hear that statistic, it triggers a big shrug. Reason: if you look around, and you see how other people operate, it’s no wonder at all…
Corollary — since 90% of businesses fail, consider this: should you really listen to the advice that appeals to that 90%? Maybe not.
(PS. that 90% figure is just off the top of my head, I don’t recall the specific studies and statistics, but you get the idea)
Ignore the Details Early On
That 90% detail gets to another point: don’t get caught up in details. Dithering about fee structure or logos or business cards is a form of procrastination.
Who cares? You provide service, you collect money. End of story.
You Need Less Than You Think,
and No Time is No Excuse
We all have limited time and resources. Every person only has 24 hours in the day. So how can it be that some people say "I don’t have time to get started".
Well, consider that most activities that would-be hypnotists engage in are a form of "busy work", so it’s no wonder that they don’t have time to get started.
Collecting certificates. Chatting online. Evaluating software for making CDs. Trying to choose designs for brochures or business cards.
"I network with other hypnotists, spend my free time writing hypnosis scripts, and ask my friends and family if they like the color scheme on my website and my proposed logo?"
These things are irrelevant to the task of getting started and creating something of value. And spending any significant time on creating a business card or brochure or pretty logo is not of value to anyone.
Sound Like You
Speaking of business cards and brochures (neither of which I use myself), consider how incongruous it is when a single-person enterprise tries to act big. You know, whenever I see the term "LLC" anymore, I have to laugh a little bit.
Nobody Likes Plastic Flowers
Not only does incongruity repel potential clients, but so does self-declared wisdom.
Who the heck wants to be around someone who proclaims on their website: "As a deeply enlightened person, I am thrilled to share my inner light with all who encounter me. I am a profoundly humble individual whose wise and peaceful presence inspires people to achieve their own fullest potential."
(This is a slight exaggeration from an actual "About Me" page)
Check yourself, do a purge from any marketing materials of any preachy gloss and sheen. No one believes you’re perfect, and pretending otherwise puts you in the position of being a pretender.
People who are struggling to get started will often focus on their lack of [insert blank here]. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of support, lack of confidence. Only thing NOT lacking seems to be excuses.
In "Founders at Work", Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, described how early on, he couldn’t afford the hardware to build computers, so he used pen and paper to teach himself how to design the original Apple computers. Because he was able to iterate through designs very quickly just using pen and paper, he was able to achieve amazing breakthroughs.
Eventually he wanted to build an actual physical machine, but he still couldn’t afford a full-featured terminal, so he just used a TV set from Sears, and figured out how to hookup a keyboard and motherboard to the off-the-shelf TV set.
These breakthroughs might not have come about if he’d been limited by having greater resources.
Of course, we can’t all be like Wozniak, but we can learn from his attitude. He did not make excuses, he figured stuff out and worked with what he had.
A major theme of "Rework" is the idea that being small is a very positive thing. There tends to be a bias that leads to desire to be bigger.
But being bigger sacrifices agility while adding organizational inertia. In other words, bureaucracy and "human resources" issues. Yuck, no thanks.
I think hypnotists can be very happy and successful if they simply focus on running an individual practice that helps a lot of people in their community.
Speaking of inertia, there seems to be a belief sometimes that if hypnotists were covered by insurance, then it would be easier to build a successful practice.
Considering the virtues of simplicity and agility, the idea of making one’s hypnosis practice dependent on insurance reimbursement is very unappealing. I think this is another example of silly excuse-making ("if only my service was covered by healthcare, then I would have clients").
I hope this summary of "Rework" has been of interest to you. Check it out, it is a quick read and is built in bite-sized chapters. It will, hopefully, encourage hesitant people to GET STARTED and GO TO WORK.
© 2012 Steve Roh