Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma9 min read#lovemyjobSeptember 19, 2019

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. We know because it's what happened at MailerLite. Today, I want to talk about the books that have had a massive impact on our business.

Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

In 2010, MailerLite was selected as a finalist of Seedcamp, the European seed fund. But, we didn’t win the investment. It was devastating. Investors were saying that email was dead and that no one needed a new email marketing platform. 

Rework motivated us to change our 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 after a few years. Now we're happy to have more than 700,000 customers who believe in our product.


Here are a few quotes from Rework that inspire us:

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

You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy.

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.

Use the power of no to get your priorities straight.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

You may work hard, but it’s better to work smart. Tim Ferriss preaches this 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 or service. You are in charge of marketing, sales and customer support. At some point, you have to start delegating tasks and trust other people. 

The 4-Hour Workweek teaches you how to prioritize and outsource tasks. We each focus on the things we do well. Every team member has their field of expertise that they are responsible for and we trust them in that 100%. 

mailerlite team member

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.

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

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 we knew our business was not a sprint; it was a marathon. If you are in it for the long haul, eventually, you need 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. Every new member reads them in their job contract, and signs the contract agreeing to live out the values. Value #10 is Take care of yourself.

The team needs you in the best shape. Take care of both your physical and mental health. Don’t spend all your time behind the computer. Enjoy hobbies. Spend time with your family and friends.

You can meditate, go to the gym, yoga, pool or massage in the middle of the day. Your work can wait 2 hours, especially when you come back full of energy and motivation.

Stay curious, explore the world, read books and meet different people. New ways of looking at things can lead to better decision-making and new exciting projects. For this reason, we want everyone to take at least 2 weeks of uninterrupted vacation per year.

Moreover, twice a year, the entire team meets in different locations. We call it workation. We've traveled together in Bali, Morocco, Panama, the Azores and we're currently planning our trip to Miami. 

Changing our environment and getting out of our comfort zone inspires creativity and connects as a team. 

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 occur when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.

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 previously believed that a team was 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 53 people that live in 22 different locations. It's the reason we can provide 24/7 customer support.

How do you communicate as a team? We use Slack for daily communication. 15Five helps us to know how team members feel. Each employee spends 15 minutes a month writing a report that takes their manager no more than 5 minutes to read. The idea is simple, yet it helps us enormously.

The report includes questions like:

  • 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?

It helps us know when 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. Ironically, now we know more about our team members than we did 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.

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 the 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 focus on our current customers. We believe that it’s much easier to grow when you constantly deliver value to your current customers and make them feel special. That’s one of the reasons they stay with MailerLite and recommend us to others.

We trust people more than ads, which is why it makes perfect sense to take care of our current customers first. When they love your product or service, they'll recommend your business to their friends or strangers online.

This is exactly what we do at MailerLite. We call it the upside-down marketing funnel.


Inspirational quotes from Delivering Happiness:

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.

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.

Is there a book that had an impact on you or your business? Does any book inspire you to change your team management or business model? 

Please share it in the comments and let's continue to grow together.