Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma9 min readBehind the ScenesJanuary 5, 2016

5 books that changed our business

5 books that changed our business

What do Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet and Elon Musk have in common?

They all read a lot.

Warren Buffet says that he spends about 80% of his day reading. Mark Zuckerberg reads a new book every week. Elon Musk has said that reading books taught him how to build rockets.

Books can inspire people to make the most important business decisions. This is exactly what happened at MailerLite. Today I want to talk about the books that have had a huge impact on our business.

Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

In 2010, the co-founders of MailerLite, Ignas and Eimantas, were participating in startup events all over Europe. And it was devastating. Everyone said that email was dead and no one needed a new email marketing platform. Rework motivated us to change the business strategy.

Rework book by david heinemeier hansson and jason fried

How Rework changed us:

Instead of searching for investors, we decided to build a long-term profitable business rather than a start-up project to sell in a few years. Now we are happy to have more than 190,000 customers who believe in our product.

Ignas MailerLite founder

Here are a few quotes from Rework that inspire us:

Unless you are a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy.

Ideas are cheap and plentiful. … The real question is how well you execute.

Grow slow and see what feels right— premature hiring is the death of many companies.

It’s entirely your responsibility to make your dreams come true.

You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy.

Use the power of no to get your priorities straight.

NEVER HIRE ANYONE to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.

Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. They’re a result of giving people the privacy, workspace, and tools they deserve.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

You may work hard, but it’s better to work smart. This is what Tim Ferriss preaches in his book.

4 hour week book by tim ferriss

How The 4-Hour Workweek changed us:

In the beginning you are the one creating and developing your product/service. You are marketing, selling and looking after your customers. At some point, you have to start delegate tasks and trust other people. The 4-Hour Workweek teaches you how to prioritize tasks and outsource them. For example, we have outsourced SEO and the development of MailerLite apps. And we focus on the things we do especially well.

mailerlite team

Inspirational quotes from The 4-Hour Workweek:

Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!

It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.

By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.

A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.

The key to not feeling rushed is remembering that lack of time is actually lack of priorities.

Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

For the first few years, MailerLite was a very small and passionate team that worked 24/7. But our business is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Everyone needs a break.

in praise of slowness - carl honore

How In Praise of Slowness influenced us:

The book motivated us to take vacations and even to travel to places with no Internet connection. At MailerLite we have 10 values that we believe in and every new member signs underneath them along with their job contract. #8 is Stay in the best shape:

The team needs you in the best shape. Take care of your health. Don’t spend all your time behind the computer.

Meditate, go to the gym, yoga, pool, massage or whatever makes you feel good. The work can wait 2 hours for you coming back full of energy and motivation. Remember, best ideas come when you’re out of the office.

And if you feel sick, respect the team – work from your home. Our business is a marathon, not a sprint. We all need to recharge sometimes. Take vacations, travel, go explore and come back inspired.

This winter, MailerLite’s team worked and lived in Bali in order to change the environment, get out of our comfort zone and inspire creativity.

mailerlite team in bali - workation

Quotes from In Praise of Slowness that inspire us:

Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.

Speed can give you a great feeling of excitement, and there is a place for that in life and in music,” says Kliemt. “But you have to draw the line, and not always use speed. It is stupid to drink a glass of wine quickly. And it is stupid to play Mozart too fast.

Much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them.

Doing two things at once seems so clever, so efficient, so modern. And yet what it often means is doing two things not very well.

Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson

We used to believe that a team is a group of people that work in the same office. Remote changed our opinion and inspired to try something new: hire a remote employee. It was a huge eye-opener for us. Suddenly we were able to hire the best talent from all over the world.

remote book by david heinemeier hansson

How Remote transformed us:

Now MailerLite’s team consists of 26 people that live in 7 different locations. This is how we can provide 24/7 customer support.

How do you communicate? We use Slack for daily communication. 15Five helps us to know how the team members feel. It’s based on a simple idea. Each employee spends 15 minutes a week writing a report that takes their manager no more than 5 minutes to read.

The report includes the questions:

  • What’s going well? Any wins (big or little) this week?
  • What challenges are you facing? Where are you stuck?
  • How are you feeling? What’s the morale you see around you?
  • One suggestion to improve your role, team or organization?

This is how we know that someone feels sick, had a break up with a girlfriend or wants the team to visit an art exhibit – the things that matter the most, but you don’t talk about during your lunch break. Ironically, now we know more about our team members than we used to while sitting together in the same office.

remote team tools

Quotes from Remote that changed our mind:

You can’t let your employees work from home out of fear they’ll slack off without your supervision. You’re a babysitter, not a manager. Remote work is very likely the least of your problems.

When people talk about getting work done at the office, they usually add a qualifier about getting in early int he morning when it’s quiet or late at night when it’s empty.

Remote work has opened the door to a new era of freedom and luxury. A brave new world beyond the industrial-age belief in The Office.

If you let them, humans have an amazing power to live up to your high expectations of reasonableness and responsibility.

To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

The book written by CEO of Zappos tells the company’s story and how important customer support is in every business.

delivering happiness book by tony hsieh

How Delivering Happiness impacted us:

Our main value is to deliver the best possible support to customers using their preferred channel  – email, chat or social media. We are online 24/7 and we speak their language.

Moreover, our entire team understands our shared goal of customer happiness. Once a month everyone works in customer support (yes, this includes the CEO, CTO, CMO, developers, designers, etc). Having people from other areas in support allows them to see the situation from a different angle, offer more solutions and solve problems faster.


Inspirational quotes from Delivering Happiness:

I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy.

We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.

Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.

We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it
back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing.

We must never lose our sense of urgency in making improvements. We must never settle for “good enough,” because good is the enemy of great.

Another common trap that many marketers fall into is focusing too much on trying to figure out how to generate a lot of buzz, when really they should be focused on building engagement and trust. I can tell you that my mom has zero buzz, but when she says something, I listen.